Airtel | Sunil Mittal: Airtel to be at forefront of bringing 5G connectivity to India: Sunil Mittal

Bharti Airtel will be at the forefront of bringing 5G connectivity to India with a powerful network to support the country’s digital-first economy and has taken the lead in testing 5G services ahead of the competition, its chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal has said. In a message to its shareholders in the telco’s annual report, Mittal said India’s second largest telco’s 5G-ready network is already playing an integral part in delivering robust performance for its clients.

Airtel was the first operator in India to demonstrate a 5G cloud gaming experience and conduct a successful 700 MHz band trial for rural connectivity, Mittal said.

He also said the government’s pivotal reforms announced in September 2021 ended years of dissonance, and a softer regulatory regime with reduced procedural formalities has emboldened the investment cycle within the industry for upgrading and extending India’s digital highways.

Spectrum auctions for the next generation 5G services are scheduled for July 26 when 72 GHz of airwaves worth `4.3 lakh crore at reserve prices will be put up for sale.

Top carriers — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and

— are set to participate in the auction, while a new entrant, Adani Data Networks, will also bid for some 5G airwaves, largely for captive private usage. added 21.5 million 4G subscribers in 2021-22 to cross the 200-million 4G smartphone customer threshold, which played out as the newly acquired spectrum was fired up during the year.

The additional spectrum helped bolster high-speed data capacity and network reach across circles, Mittal said.

“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.”

He said the company enjoys a premium position in the industry and has increased ARPU to `178 exiting fiscal 2021-22, the highest in the industry. “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, adding that the telco also saw the highest ever net additions to its broadband base, fuelled by work-from-home and study-from-home needs.

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