After having focused on rural coverage with its massive network rollout, Bharti Airtel is now focusing on coverage gaps in five key circles as the telco aims to win its share of high-quality wireless subscribers. Gopal Vittal, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Bharti Airtel, highlighted during the Q3FY24 earnings call that the company is taking the advantage of digital tools, data science, and razor-sharp execution one step further in the coming quarter to expand its coverage.
Addressing Coverage Disparities
"Across India, we have a position of leadership in almost 60 percent of the country. Yet, in five key circles—Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, Kerala, and West Bengal—we have a gap of almost 18 percentage points with the number one player. In these circles, we have almost 25,000 fewer sites as well, leading to our absence in certain areas of these geographies. We intend to step up our coverage in these areas and build a tailwind for our business in the coming quarters," Gopal said.
As reported by TelecomTalk, to provide context, during the earnings call for the second quarter ending on September 30, 2023, Gopal Vittal regarding coverage in rural regions said the company is deploying over 30,000 sites to extend coverage to around 60,000 villages to win a share of 4G net additions. Now, during the recent earnings call, Gopal highlighted the outcome of the massive rural rollout for the company.
Ensuring Profitable Growth
"Our massive rollout this year of almost 30,000 sites has worked well for us, be it customers per site, cost per site, or competitive performance. All of this has met action standards," Gopal said.
When asked if Airtel is looking to add another 25,000 sites in these five circles, Gopal replied, saying "It may not be all the way to bridge the gap as we measure profitability, revenue, and cost for every single one of the 300,000 sites." However, Gopal clarified that the company ensures the cluster of sites remains profitable before expanding further.
"So, to clarify, there will be a significant rollout happening in these five circles. We are still doing the work. But clearly, there's a gap here that we will need to bridge," Gopal added.
In conclusion, Airtel intends to ramp up the network in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, Kerala, and West Bengal circles to address any coverage gaps and win its share of quality customers.