Bharti Airtel has completed rolling out 4G services in all of its circles except in Jammu & Kashmir, a spokesperson from the company told MediaNama. Airtel currently operates in 22 circles; its 4G LTE coverage is now present in 21 circles. This was first reported by the Economic Times. However the report had mistakenly claimed that Airtel has 4G presence in all 22 circles.
In the past two months alone Airtel rolled out 4G in 6 circles, the spokesperson added. This week it deployed 4G in Assam circle with services going live cities including Dibrugarh & Tinsukia under the 2300 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum bands. Last week it announced commencement of 4G operations in Bihar circle across 12 cities like Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Purnia, Daudnagar & Ramnagar among others.
Last month Airtel deployed 4G in Gujarat circles in key cities like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, among others under the 1800 MHz band, according to TelecomTalk. In the same month, Airtel 4G also went live in Uttar Pradesh starting with Lucknow, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Varanasi etc. under the 1800 MHz band. In September Airtel started rolling out 4G in Himachal Pradesh circle.
Interestingly, Bharti Airtel had signed a network deployment deal with Nokia Networks in October to install and maintain 4G services in three new circles. Nokia’s networking arm already serves 4G services for Bharti Airtel in 6 circles in India since September 2015. The deal comes just weeks after Airtel had acquired 173.8 MHz of spectrum across the three different bands for a total amount of Rs 14,244 crore in this year’s auctions.
Competition in 4G
Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Jio recently extended its free data and voice offer until March 31st 2017 for all of its subscribers. Jio has 4G services all 22 circles and also has a spectrum sharing deal with RCOM under 800 Mhz in 22 circles. On the other hand Idea Cellular had announced that it’s in process of expanding 4G all of its 17 service areas to 3G and/or 4G by March 2017. The company aims to have 4G presence in 4,600 by the end of FY17 and recently invested Rs 100 crore in AP and Telangana for 4G.
Vodafone also announced plans to expand 4G to 8 additional circles by March 2017, taking 4G presence to 17 circles. Anil Ambani owned Reliance Communications started phasing out CDMA to upgrade its subscribers to 4G in June. It also provided MTS’s subscribers an option to migrate to RCOM 4G after the company’s merger deal with MTS.