From First-Push Button Phones to Banking and Airtel Money- Airtel’s Success Story

With people around every corner talking about Airtel subscriptions, Airtel bill payment, etc. Airtel become one of the most versatile mobile networking companies in the world. However, how has it come about to be? Airtel has a long and fascinating history that has made the company what it is today, over three decades after the company was founded. Let us take a look at this history.

  1. In 1984, renowned entrepreneur Sunil Mittal began assembling push-button phones which he imported from Taiwan. It was the only alternative to bulky old-fashioned rotary dial phones back then. Bharati Telecom Limited (BTL) then came to being, and it tied up with German company Siemens to manufacture push-button phones. By early 1990s, Bharati Telecom made fax machines, cordless phones and other telecom gear.
  2. In 1992, it bid for one of the four mobile phone network license auctioned in India. Since one of the conditions for the Delhi cellular license was that the bidders have experience as a telecom operator, Mittal clinched a deal with the French telecom group Viveldi. His plans were finally approved by the government in 1994.
  3. In 1994, Bharati enterprises got hold of JT holdings, and extended their operations to Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It acquired SkyCell communications in Chennai, in 2000. In 2001, it acquired control of Spice Cell in Calcutta. It became public in 2002 and was listed in the Bombay Stock Exchange.In 2003, all its cellular phone services were rebranded under the Airtel brand. In 2004, control over Hexacom was acquired, and the Bharati group expanded to Rajasthan. In 2004, it expanded to Andaman and Nicobar.
  4. Airtel launched ‘Hello Tunes’, a caller back ring tone service in 2004, becoming the first operator to do so in India. The tune composed by renowned composer A.R Rahman was the most popular tune that year.
  5. In 2009, there were negotiations for Airtel’s strategic partner Alcatel-Lucent to manage the network infrastructure for the fixed line business. Later, Bharati Airtel awarded the three year contract to Alactel-Lucent to set up an internet protocol network across the country.
  6. In 2009, Airtel launched its first international network in Sri Lanka.
  7. Bharati Airtel Limited has emerged as the third largest mobile network operator in the world, with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa.

Airtel India is the largest provider of mobile telephony and the second largest provider of fixed telephony in India. It is also a provider of broadband and subscription television services.

It provides several services including telemedia, digital services and mobile data service.

In collaboration with Kotak Mahindra Bank, AIrtel has also started a banking service targeting its mobile customers. This has helped make Airtel bill payment easier.

Airtel had started mCommerce app called Airtel Money in collaboration with Infosys and SmartTrust. Launched in 2012, users can now use it to transfer money, do Airtel bill payment, and perform other financial functions using it. The My Airtel app which had been launched has made all these much easier as well.