Bharti Airtel is now looking to phase out its 3G service in the next two years and move all its subscribers to 4G network, which will help the operator to offer better services and save on costs as well.
Airtel is planning to shift all its 3G users across the country to 4G services over the next few months, a person aware of the matter said to Livemint. This move will even allow Airtel to offer VoLTE based voice calling service to the subscribers.
“What we need is that every base site that we have, we need to add a new technology so that the rollout that we are doing currently is almost entirely on 4G. Our 3G rollout is over and I would say 3G in any way in 2-3 years, we will have to shut it down. Our 3G network will also shift to 4G. And these are mostly software switches,” said the person to the publication.
Reliance Jio is the only operator offering VoLTE voice calling services on a pan-India basis. Implementing VoLTE services will reduce the cost of operations to Airtel and it will also offer better voice calling experience. Furthermore, this move will also make Airtel an LTE-only network. Currently, Reliance Jio is the LTE-only operator in the country.
Another Airtel spokesperson said to the publication “that 3G networks will get phased out in India well ahead of most countries in the world”.
“All new smartphones being shipped today support 4G (along with 3G) and given that 4G technology is much more spectrally efficient compared to 3G, the progression to 4G will be logical for operators. We would, however, not like to comment on speculation regarding our network plans,” the spokesperson said.
Airtel is the largest telecom operator in India, and the idea behind this move is to offer seamless VoLTE services to its subscribers. After the arrival of 4G, 3G technology usage has come down drastically.
“We would ideally like to keep the customer on the same technology. For that, you need a ubiquitous 4G layer across the country, which is what we are trying to build right now. Once you have that and if you have VoLTE, then the voice runs on the same 4G layer. Otherwise, I have data running here and the moment I make a call, I slip back to 3G and then I go back to 4G,” the person added further.
That said, 2G will remain a bit longer because there are several users on the 2G network, to be precise, more than 300 million customers are still using the 2G network, thanks to the low-cost tariffs and the unavailability of 4G support. Currently, Airtel is offering VoLTE services in Mumbai, Goa & Maharashtra, and Chattisgarh.