With a strong network to serve the nation’s digital-first economy, Bharti Airtel will be at the forefront of bringing 5G connectivity to India, according to its chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. The company has also taken the lead in testing 5G services ahead of the competition. Mittal said that the 5G-ready network of India’s second-largest telecom is already essential to providing stable performance for its customers in a message to shareholders in the telco’s annual report.
According to Mittal, Airtel was the first service provider in India to show off a 5G cloud gaming experience and run a successful 700 MHz spectrum experiment for rural connectivity. A milder regulatory system with fewer procedural hurdles and the government’s important measures announced in September 2021, according to him, have empowered the investment cycle within the industry for expanding and improving India’s digital highways. On July 26, 72 GHz of airwaves valued ‘4.3 lakh crore at reserve pricing’ will be put up for sale in spectrum auctions for the upcoming 5G services.
A new participant, Adani Data Networks, will also compete for some 5G airwaves, primarily for captive private use. NSE are scheduled to participate in the auction.
To reach the 200 million 4G smartphone customer milestone in 2021–2022, NSE gained 21.5 million new 4G users. This development coincided with the activation of recently acquired spectrum during the year.
According to Mittal, the new spectrum increased network reach and high-speed data capacity across circles. “With a stated objective of ARPU (average revenue per user) expansion, your company focused on attracting high quality and discerning customers in both the prepaid and postpaid segments,” Mittal said.
Airtel managing director Gopal Vittal said, “We are fully ready for 5G. Our core network – radio network and transport network – is fully future proofed. Our sub-GHz footprint across the country now gives us deep indoor coverage.”
According to him, the business holds a premium position in the sector and boosted ARPU to ‘178 at the end of fiscal 2021–22, the most in the sector. According to Vittal, the telco experienced its highest-ever net additions to its broadband base, driven by needs for work-from-home and study-from-home opportunities. “The resilience of our customer base was reflected in our ability to realise the full impact of the tariff increase taken in November 2021,” Vittal said.