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Thursday, May 30, 2002

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Bharti wants mobiles taken off 1/6 category

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PUNE, May 29

CELLULAR service provider Bharti on Wednesday made a strong case for the removal of ownership of a mobile phone from the list of the new one-by-six category for filing of income tax.

Expressing what he said was a common industry concern, Bharti Enterprises Joint Managing Director, Mr Rajan Mittal, called for a level playing field and pointed out that there was no reason for mobile phones to be on the list while fixed land line ownership had since been removed from it.

Talking to the press at the launch of the headquarters of Bharti Cellular's Maharashtra and Goa circle in the city, Mr Mittal said his company would roll out its services in all the circles for which it has licences by the second quarter of the current financial year. The company would launch its services in the Maharashtra and Goa circle by July and added operations in Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh (West) would be kicked off before this.

Mr Mittal said the company would try to gain leadership position in the circle where it would be the fourth operator with its superior network and value proposition. ``Our pricing for the circle will be competitive and we are not here for price wars,'' Mr Mittal said, pointing out that increased competition had already driven prices low enough to rule out any further drop in prices.

The Maharashtra and Goa circle had a subscriber base of over 4.5 lakh in the fiscal just ended and the figure was expected to double in the current year, Mr Inder Bajaj, COO, Maharashtra and Goa pointed out. He added that the company expected to garner more than twenty five per cent of this market in the first year of operations.

Mr Mittal said the company would kick off its operations in the circle by simultaneously connecting all the major towns and highways depending on the traffic on individual destinations. He, however, made a strong case for the cutting down of the charges imposed by VSNL on lease lines which are the backbone of connectivity in rural belts.

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