Bharti Airtel, India’s leading telecom operator will extend its 4G footprint to 19 circles in next 3-4 months with the launch of services in six circles using spectrum acquired from Videocon Telecommunications, Business Standard reported on Friday. Bharti Airtel, which was the first operator to launch 4G network in Kolkata in April 2012, currently offers 4G LTE services using 1800 MHz and 2300 Mhz bands in over 350 cities in India. It holds 4G spectrum in 15 circles.
The telco had bought 2X5 MHz of 4G spectrum in 1,800 Hz band in six circles — Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, UP (East) and UP (West). The launch of in these six circles will help the leading telecom operator to increase its 4G coverage to 94% of revenue base from the current 72%, the report said.
The publication, citing analysts, said that Bharti Airtel is now better positioned to defend its market share from Reliance Jio, which is planning to launch 4G LTE services commercially later this year.
Airtel had inked a definitive agreement with Videocon Telecommunications to acquire the rights to use 2X5 MHz spectrum in the 1800 MHz band allotted to Videocon for an aggregate consideration of Rs 4,428 crore.
The launch of 4G LTE services by Bharti Airtel will also help it increase its lead over incumbents like Vodafone and Idea Cellular. Vodafone currently has the lowest 4G LTE spectrum holdings with airwaves in just six circles, while Idea Cellular has 4G spectrum airwaves in ten circles.
Recently, an Economic Times report said that Vodafone was in talks with Norway-based Telenor for acquisition of the latter’s operations in country in a bid to increase its 4G spectrum holdings to compete with bigger 4G players like Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, and the new telco Reliance Jio.
The publication had reported that Telenor’s airwaves in the 1800 MHz band will be valued at roughly $1 billion (Rs 6,800 crore). Vodafone can use Telenor’s spectrum, currently being used to offer 2G services in six circles, to offer 4G services.