Gopal Vittal indicated that Bharti Airtel, which has been in the midst of a data war with Jio and Vodafone, plans to invest in 4G technology to enhance data capacity in the network.
Bharti Airtel will in all probability terminate its 3G services in the coming three to four years as well as reframe the spectrum linked with this service for its 4G services, according to a top official of India’s telecom major. During an earnings call on November 2, 2017, Gopal Vittal, Bharti Airtel’s MD and CEO of India and South Asia said, “There is almost no spent that we are doing on 3G. Our view is in next 3-4 years we are likely to see 3G network actually shut down faster than 2G network because there are still 50 per cent of phones being shipped out in India that are feature phones.”
Vittal also indicated that Bharti Airtel, which has been in the midst of a data war with Jio and Vodafone, plans to invest in 4G technology to enhance data capacity in the network. In fact, the company intends to use the 2100 megahertz band currently being used for 3G services, for its 4G services. “Where we have the second career of 3G or third career then through flip of software you get incremental capacity on 3G. Most of that spectrum will finally go towards 4G for which we will need to have radio units,” stated the CEO.
He went on to inform that Airtel has already installed modern 3G equipment which supports 4G services in some of the telecom circles. However, the equipment deployed initially for 3G services will have to be replaced. “Some of the older radios are pure 3G which we need to replace. It will take its time. I think that the answer for that will be a function of how fast pick up of voice happens on VoLTE (4G voice call network). The moment that happens voice will not be required to be carried on 3G which can help reaffirm us 2100 Mhz for 4G,” Vittal clarified.
Going by reports and records, the country’s largest telecom operator recently posted a reduction in earnings in the sixth consecutive quarter as its consolidated net profit saw a dip of 76.5% to reach Rs.343 crore in the September quarter as compared to Rs.1,461 during the same quarter in the previous year. However, mobile date traffic witnessed a four-fold hike in terms of growth during the September quarter. Also, mobile broadband customers went up by 33.6% to reach 55.2 million.
Moreover, if one recalls, before October 1, 2017, mobile operators charged 14 paise a minute when they allowed for the termination of a domestic call from a rival company on their network. However, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI lowered the charges to 6 paise a minute starting October 1, 2017. Bharti Airtel’s revenues will be hit further by 4 per cent of its EBITDA (consolidated) or approximately Rs.300 crore in the current quarter due to the reduction in connection charges to 6 paise from October 1, 2017 according to an Airtel representative.
In a separate announcement, Bharti Airtel stated that it has transferred its optical fiber business to Telesonic Networks, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, for a valuation of up to Rs.5,650 crore.