Bharti Airtel is now the world's third largest mobile operator

Sunil Mittal-controlled Bharti Airtel Ltd has become the world's third largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Bharti Airtel, which has operations in 20 countries globally, presently has a subscriber base of 303 million.

Citing the latest data published by World Cellular Information Service (WCIS), Bharti Airtel said that it has moved up by one position in the global pecking order for telcos.

"This is a major landmark in the journey of Airtel and underlines the strength of our business model and our brand that is loved by customers across 20 countries," Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel, said in the statement.

China Mobile topped the list with 626.27 million subscribers across the world, while UK's Vodafone Group is the second largest telecommunication operator with 403.08 million subscribers.

Another Chinese firm, China Unicom ranked fourth with a subscriber base of 299.09 million, followed by America Movil with 274.14 million subscribers.

At present, Bharti Airtel's mobile network covers over 1.85 billion people across its global operations. The company carried over 1.23 trillion minutes of calls and over 333 petabytes of data in financial year 2014-15, it said.

It also has the largest rural mobile customer base in India with over 100 million subscribers from the country's tier two and tier three cities.

Bharti Airtel's distribution channel is said to cover around 86.6 per cent of the country's population.

The telecommunication major is the largest mobile operator in Africa in terms of geographical footprint and offers mobile telephony services and Airtel Money in 17 countries.

In April 2012, Bharti Airtel had launched India's first 4G service in Kolkata. Its 4G services are now available in cities such s Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chandigarh, Amritsar and others. The company holds 4G spectrum in eight circles of Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Kolkata and Karnataka.