The CEO of Bharti Airtel, Gopal Vittal, recently said that the company would offer 5G in ‘larger cities’ first before it takes the national route. He further said that Airtel’s mobile broadband infrastructure is ‘future-proof’ and can be leveraged to offer quick 5G services. Vittal has confirmed that Airtel will go after the sub-GHz spectrum in the upcoming spectrum auctions which will enable it in deploying 5G and also renew the 1800 MHz spectrum along with adding more spectrum in the 2300 MHz band — more details on the story ahead.
Bharti Airtel Network ‘Future-Proof’
According to an ET Telecom report, Vittal has confirmed that the existing core and radio equipment of the mobile broadband network won’t have to be replaced for providing 5G. This would help the telco save a lot of capex spends on deploying 5G.
In the short-term, he said Airtel would be looking to rollout 5G in the metro or large cities of the country. This is because the price of the 5G devices is very high at the moment and a large population of the country still operate 4G devices.
This is where analysts believe that Reliance Jio can take an upper-hand against Airtel in rolling out 5G by unveiling its low-cost 5G smartphone in partnership with Google. Vittal said that Airtel is not looking to enter the device subsidy game since the telco believes it is a value-destructive strategy.
It is worth noting that Airtel has already proved the claims made by Vittal for 5G. The telco has tested its 5G network live in Hyderabad using the 1800 MHz spectrum. Airtel found that the network offered 10x more speed and latency compared to 4G. During the test, a 1GB movie file could be downloaded in a matter of seconds whereas generally takes minutes to download it in a 4G network.
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