Last year, we saw Bharti Airtel completely shutting down 3G services across the country. A new report by PTI now highlights the telco has started refarming 2G spectrum for 4G services to deliver enhanced network services to the customers. Airtel is said to have started deploying 4G technology in the 900 Mhz band. For those who are unaware, Airtel is using the same 900 Mhz band currently to provide 2G services. The refarming of 2G spectrum for 4G has started by Airtel in ten telecom circles and the report says it will take 3-4 months for Airtel to finish the entire refarming exercise. At present, Airtel is offering 4G services in 2300 Mhz, 1800 Mhz and 900 Mhz (select circles) bands.
The PTI report says Airtel has already started the refarming of 900 Mhz spectrum band for 4G in six telecom circles- Delhi, Kolkata, Andhra Pradesh, North East, Karnataka and Rajasthan. And it will also start deploying the same in four more telecom circles soon because the telco has liberalised 900 Mhz spectrum in ten circles.
Airtel is no longer offering 3G services in India and all the 3G users were migrated to 4G as part of its 3G spectrum refarming exercise last year. “As smartphone penetration grows further in small towns and villages, we have the opportunity to deploy some of the high quality 900 Mhz band from 2G to 4G and scale up network capacity without having to wait till auctions. This is helping us truly differentiate the 4G experience on our network,” the company executive who did not wish to be named said to PTI.
By refarming the 900 Mhz 2G spectrum for 4G, Bharti Airtel is looking to boost the indoor coverage. Do make a note that the refarming is only to boost the indoor coverage and Airtel will continue offering 2G services across the country. The report further adds the 900 Mhz band with higher propagation helps in improving indoor 4G coverage and also strengthens Airtel’s 4G spectrum group.
Airtel is currently on the recovery mode as the telco plans to increase ARPU and also increase its subscriber base. Airtel recently revealed that it added 14.4 million new 4G users in the quarter that ended on September 30, 2020. The most important takeaway is Airtel managed to outperform Jio in the 4G subscriber additions.