Airtel to Refarm More Mid-Band Spectrum as 5G Devices Grow in Numbers: Report

Airtel is more interested in buying spectrum in small chunks to aid the circles where its current spectrum holding is expiring. This helps the company in building a cost-efficient approach while at the same time delivering powerful networks to customers.

Highlights

  • Bharti Airtel has a very calculated approach towards its spectrum portfolio to ensure that it can efficiently match the needs of its networks and customers.
  • The telco has plans to refarm its mid-band spectrum for 5G as more 5G-enabled devices are active in the market.
  • From mid-band, Airtel means airwaves in the 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz.

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Bharti Airtel has a very calculated approach towards its spectrum portfolio to ensure that it can efficiently match the needs of its networks and customers. The telco has plans to refarm its mid-band spectrum for 5G as more 5G-enabled devices are active in the market. From mid-band, Airtel means airwaves in the 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz. Currently, about 10-12% of smart devices in the market are 5G enabled. In the coming years, as the percentage grows to 25-30%, Airtel will make the decision to refarm the mid-band spectrum.




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According to an ET report (via BofA Securities), the telco has reiterated its decision to not go after the 700 MHz spectrum. There are multiple reasons why Airtel doesn't have much interest in the 700 MHz spectrum right now. First of all, it is too costly. Then, the telco already possesses a spectrum portfolio that can help it achieve its goals to deliver a great 5G experience. Thus, spending on 700 MHz spectrum for 5G won't necessarily bring any additional returns to the company or its networks.

Read More - Bharti Airtel Completes Minimum 5G Rollout Obligation in All 22 Indian Telecom Circles

Airtel is more interested in buying spectrum in small chunks to aid the circles where its current spectrum holding is expiring. This helps the company in building a cost-efficient approach while at the same time delivering powerful networks to customers. The Department of Telecommuncations (DoT) has already set the ball rolling for the next spectrum auction that's likely to take place in calendar year 2024.

Bharti Airtel has decided to deploy 5G non-standalone (NSA). Thus the telco is leveraging its 4G networks for delivering great coverage experience to customers. Airtel has often said that the 700 MHz doesn't really offer any significantly better uplink speeds than the 800 MHz or 900 MHz band. Thus, spending a lot of money on the 700 MHz spectrum just to offer coverage which can also be done with the 900 MHz spectrum doesn't really make a lot of sense.

Reported By

Tanuja is a passionate technology and telecom buff who has been following the telecom industry for several years now.

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