Bharti Airtel Limited, commonly known as Airtel, is an Indian telecommunications company that operates in 20 countries across South Asia, Africa and the Channel Islands. It operates a GSM network in all countries, providing 2G or 3G services depending upon the country of operation. Airtel is the fifth largest telecom operator in the world with about 230.8 million subscribers across 19 countries at the end of June 2011. It is the largest cellular service provider in India, with over 171.85 million subscribers as of August 2011. Airtel is the 3rd largest in-country mobile operator by subscriber base, behind China Mobile and China Unicom.
Airtel is the largest provider of mobile telephony and second largest provider of fixed telephony in India, and is also a provider of broadband and subscription television services. It offers its telecom services under the Airtel brand and is headed by Sunil Bharti Mittal. Bharti Airtel is the first Indian telecom service provider to achieve this Cisco Gold Certification. To earn Gold Certification, Bharti Airtel had to meet rigorous standards for networking competency, service, support and customer satisfaction set forth by Cisco.The company also provides land-line telephone services and broadband Internet access (DSL) in over 96 cities in India. It also acts as a carrier for national and international long distance communication services. The company has a submarine cable landing station at Chennai, which connects the submarine cable connecting Chennai and Singapore.
It is known for being the first mobile phone company in the world to outsource everything except marketing and sales and finance. Its network (base stations, microwave links, etc.) are maintained by Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Network and Huawei, business support by IBM and transmission towers by another company (Bharti Infratel Ltd. in India). Ericsson agreed for the first time, to be paid by the minute for installation and maintenance of their equipment rather than being paid up front. This enabled the company to provide pan-India phone call rates of Rs. 1/minute (U$0.02/minute). Call rates have come down much further.During the last financial year [2009–10], Bharti has roped in a strategic partner Alcatel-Lucent to manage the network infrastructure for the Telemedia Business.