Despite an impressive growth of 77.5 percent in the subscriber base, Bharti
Cellular, the No 1 private service provider across all segments in 2000-01, lost
that coveted position and slipped to the third position among cellular service
providers. It recorded a total revenue of Rs 537 crore, with a growth of 19.14
percent over FY 2000-01. The company also lost its marketshare by a significant
9 percent, down to 56.96 percent in the Rs 943-crore Delhi market. It, however,
is still fairly ahead of the competition.
As Bharti concentrated on hooking up more subscribers in a short time, it had
to depend on the low-end pre-paid customers. Bharti’s marketing was centered
more around its pre-paid brand–Magic. The large number of pre-paid customers
brought the ARPU down.
Bharti did launch a few TV commercials for building a nationwide Airtel
brand, but there was no major marketing campaign for value-added services. On
the technology front, Bharti implemented GPRS technology in its network, though
the commercial GPRS service is yet to be launched.
This year Bharti launched subscriber local dialing service, which allows
Bharti subscribers to call in-roamers using Bharti’s network in Delhi, with
local toll charges. With a new operator coming in, and both MTNL and Sterling
getting aggressive, Bharti will have a testing time this year.