Telecom firm Bharti Airtel Ltd on Wednesday announced the termination of its controversial 3G intra-circle roaming agreements with Vodafone and Idea Cellular in various circles, except Kerala, by the end of fiscal year 2016.

The company also said it has lined up an investment of $3 billion, mostly for Indian and South Asian businesses, in the current fiscal year.

During an earnings call, Bharti Airtel global chief financial officer (CFO) B. Srikanth said, “We have capex guidance of about $3 billion this fiscal. Of this, about $700-800 million is for Africa and rest is for India and South Asia."

“We are waiting for spectrum to be allocated. Definitely before the year goes out, we will be rolling out 3G in our gap circles and, consequently, we will phase out 3G ICR (intra-circle roaming)," said Nilanjan Roy, Bharti Airtel CFO for India.

Srikanth said that in the recent spectrum auction, the company gained pan-India capability for 3G and 4G services. “We now have capability to deploy premium 3G service in 900MHz (megahertz) across 10 circles, which we will be rolling out in next 1-2 years," he said.

The company already held 3G spectrum across 13 out of 22 telecom circles in the country.

In the March auction, Airtel expanded its 3G spectrum footprint in six more service areas—Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh (east), Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have signed 3G intra-circle roaming agreements to use one another’s 3G spectrum in circles where they do not have the required frequencies.

The department of telecommunications has called these agreements illegal. There was a split judgement on this matter at the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) and the matter is now sub-judice before the Supreme Court.

Bharti Airtel also plans to roll out 4G services across various circles in the current fiscal. “Since 2010, in five separate auctions, the company has acquired spectrum valued at 68,099 crore," Srikanth said.

The company is divesting tower assets in Africa and is working to complete the process in 12 remaining African countries, he said. “We will be able to share more details by end of first quarter."

Bharti Airtel on Tuesday reported a 30.5% jump in March quarter net profit of 1,255 crore, buoyed by a robust customer growth and rise in mobile data revenue.

The Sunil Mittal-led company had reported a net profit of 962 crore for the corresponding period last year. Total revenue rose 3.6% to 23,016 crore for the reported quarter compared with 22,219 crore in the year-ago period.

Bharti Airtel has reported that its net loss for Africa widened to $183 million for the March quarter compared with $105 million in the year-ago period.

Shares of Bharti Airtel closed at 387.5 apiece, down by 3.32%, on BSE on Wednesday. The benchmark Sensex fell 0.62% to close at 27,225.93 points.

Close