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March 15, 2002 | 1135 IST
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Bharti gets international phone service licence

Bharti Telesonic, a subsidiary of telecoms company Bharti Tele-Ventures has signed a licence agreement with the government to start international long distance phone services, a company statement said.

Bharti Telesonic, the first private Indian company to start national long distance operations, received the licence after it paid Rs 250 million to the government as entry fees and a bank guarantee of the same amount on Thursday.

"Bharti Telesonic will be launching the ILD services in April 2002 under the IndiaOne brand umbrella," the statement said, adding the company had already installed, commissioned and tested two international gateways in Mumbai and Chennai.

"IndiaOne has also entered into bilateral agreements with a number of international carriers to put in place the network backbone for its international long distance services."

Bharti is one of five companies that last month received preliminary approvals to start ILD services once the monopoly of the recently-privatised Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd ends on April 1.

Last month, Reliance Communications, a unit of India's largest private conglomerate, the Reliance Group, signed a licence to operate ILD services.

Others holding the government's letters of intent include Internet service provider Data Access and little known firms, Pacific Net Invest and Connecting Networks.

Bharti Tele-Ventures, one of the main holding companies of New Delhi-based private telecoms conglomerate Bharti Enterprises, runs seven mobile and three fixed-line networks and has licences to start eight more mobile and two more fixed-line networks.

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