UP­WARDLY MO­BILE

India Today - - STATES - —Sh­weta Punj

Sunil Bharti Mit­tal, the founder of Bharti Air­tel, started with manufacturing bi­cy­cle parts when he was just 18. He grad­u­ated to im­port­ing elec­tric power gen­er­a­tors from Suzuki Mo­tors. Later, in 1984, Mit­tal started manufacturing push­but­ton phones. In early 1992, he bid for one of the four mo­bile phone net­work li­cences auc­tioned in In­dia. To meet the con­di­tion for ex­pe­ri­ence, Mit­tal en­tered into an agree­ment with French tele­com group Vivendi. Af­ter get­ting clear­ance from the gov­ern­ment in 1994, Mit­tal launched ser­vices in Delhi un­der Bharti Cel­lu­lar in 1995.

Air­tel has trans­formed the way In­di­ans keep in touch— from the year-long wait for a lan­d­line con­nec­tion to mo­bile phones that could be used any­where and were avail­able to ev­ery­one. In many ways, Bharti Air­tel was a great lev­eller—it brought the lux­ury of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to all ir­re­spec­tive of so­cial stature and eco­nomic means. This ease of com­mu­ni­ca­tion opened up op­por­tu­ni­ties for mil­lions of In­di­ans across the coun­try, en­cour­ag­ing en­trepreneur­ship. It also con­nected In­dia with the rest of the world. From the days of book­ing a trunk call and wait­ing end­lessly to mak­ing a call to an in­ter­na­tional num­ber from one’s mo­bile phone was a trans­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. Now, Bharti Air­tel is at the fore­front of the digital revo­lu­tion sweeping In­dia.

DI­ALLING THE FU­TURE

The com­pany is com­mit­ted to spend­ing Rs 19,300 crore in cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture. It is also bet­ting big on 4G busi­ness and has ac­quired Te­lenor In­dia and en­tered into an agree­ment with Tikona Digital Net­works. It is in­vest­ing Rs 2,000 crore in the ‘Project Next’ pro­gramme to im­prove cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence across its ser­vices and has also launched Air­tel Pay­ments Bank as well as on­line wal­let Air­tel Money.

RING­ING IN CHANGE Sunil Mit­tal (third from right) at the launch of the Air­tel ser­vice in Delhi

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