Bharti Airtel said that it will focus on acquiring a majority share of 4G smartphones entering the Indian market as it strives to counter Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio and strengthen its market presence.
The telecom operator’s managing director (India & South Asia), Gopal Vittal during the analyst call after quarterly results said that the Indian market has shifted to 4G technology. He added that 80-90% of smartphones being shipped into India are 4G-enabled.
Vittal said that the high adoption levels to 4G devices are promising in the long-term. “Airtel is pleased with its current share of 4G devices on its network, and we will take steps to further increase our share,” Vittal was quoted as saying by a report in ET.
Bharti Airtel on Thursday partnered with home-bred handset maker Micromax to bundle the latter’s Canvas 2 with one year free 4G service. The telecom operator may extend its partnerships with other vendors for similar long-term offers, which would help it achieve a majority of 4G device market share.
The Sunil Mittal-led telecom operator has also begun a cost-optimisation drive. It is taking measures such as fibre and active infrastructure sharing to advance finances in its bid to fight Reliance Jio. According to Vittal, Airtel has so far entered into fibre-sharing deals with other telcos.
Airtel is also running an active infrastructure sharing pilot in some rural markets. Vittal said that the active infrastructure moves would be extended to more markets following the success of the pilot. Such agreements will bring significant operating expenditures savings.
Bharti Airtel also revealed that its consolidated capital expenditure for fiscal 2018 would be $3 billion. It will spend $2.5 billion in India to expand its 4G network, up from $2.3 billion Capex last fiscal year.