Airtel CEO Says FWA Will Complement Fibre Offering

Bharti Airtel's Gopal Vittal, shared insights about the company's FWA strategy and the lessons learned from the initial pilot of the service. Airtel is targeting high-quality customers and sees FWA as a complement to FTTH in bridging the gap in areas with weak fiber coverage.

Highlights

  • Airtel FWA to complement fiber in bridging the gap in areas with weak fiber coverage.
  • Airtel targets high-quality customers.
  • Airtel on track to achieve 40 million home passes.

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Airtel CEO Says FWA Will Complement Fibre Offering
Bharti Airtel's Managing Director and CEO, Gopal Vittal, shared views about the Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) strategy and insights from the pilot of the service in cities where it was initially launched during the Second Quarter Ended September 30, 2023, Earnings Webinar. Let's explore what the Airtel CEO has shared regarding Airtel Xstream AirFiber, the company's FWA offering using 5G Network.

Also Read: Bharti Airtel Reports Q2 Net Profit of Rs 1,341 Crore; ARPU at Rs 203




Rollout Strategy

Firstly, Gopal highlighted that the company looks for high-quality customers and evaluates opportunities through key lenses across rural areas and the top 150 cities. Rollouts are planned based on a scientific approach supported by data science. Gopal has emphasized this in previous discussions as well. The company has stepped up focus its focus on One Airtel network planning, including transport and go-to-market strategies.

Broadband Expansion Highlights

Regarding the broadband service offering, Gopal highlighted that Airtel has added the highest-ever quarterly net additions of 4.7 lakhs and is now present in 1,239 cities, up from 1,060 in the same quarter last year. Airtel is also rapidly expanding its reach with over 1.5 million home passes per quarter.

Gopal said the company is on track to achieve its targeted 40 million home passes, and regarding the quality of customer acquisitions, Gopal mentioned that almost 35 percent of Airtel's acquisitions are now on Airtel Black, and this number is steadily growing.

Also Read: Airtel 5G in Over 5000 Cities and Towns: Check Entry Level Plans With Unlimited 5G Benefit

FWA as a Fiber Complement

Now, with respect to the wireless broadband offering, the Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) service, which Airtel is providing through its Xstream AirFiber solution, Gopal stated that Airtel's FWA service will complement Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) in bridging the gap in areas with weak fiber reach/coverage.

Customer Premises Equipment

Speaking specifically about the cost of Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), Gopal mentioned that the cost of the equipment has been decreasing and is expected to continue falling with an increase in volumes, which will make FWA a good complement to fiber.

"We have initiated FWA testing in key cities and plan to roll it out fully by the end of this calendar year. Our preferred choice of device is outdoor, not indoor," said Gopal.

To recap, as reported by TelecomTalk, Airtel showcased its upgraded version of the FWA Solution during the India Mobile Congress 2023.

Also Read: First Look at Upgraded Airtel Xstream AirFiber from IMC 2023

Learnings from Global Experience

Gopal specifically highlighted that the FWA service will cause network congestion over time, and eventually, customers will need to transition to fiber for a better experience.

"The experience from Telcos in the US suggests that FWA can lead to network congestion over time. Therefore, there has to be a concerted move towards fiber. This is why I've mentioned that FWA will always be a good complement in areas where fiber has not yet been deployed or cannot be deployed," Gopal added.

FWA will complement Fiber

Furthermore, Gopal emphasised two reasons why the company believes that FWA will complement fiber. He stated, "Firstly, the pricing is the same, and as a result, the experience on fiber will always be superior to FWA because it offers a more guaranteed experience, unlike a shared network used in mobile services. Secondly, the total addressable market will certainly not be 200 million homes, as not all households will be able to afford spending Rs 1000 per month on telecom expenses."

Also Read: Breaking: Airtel Xstream AirFiber is Now Available in Kolkata

Bharti Airtel initially launched its Fixed Wireless Service, Airtel Xstream AirFiber, in Delhi and Mumbai. As reported by TelecomTalk, it was also introduced in Kolkata in the last week of October, bringing the total number of cities where the service is available to three.

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