Business Standard reported that Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom company, will launch 4G services in four new circles in the next three-four months.
These circles include Gujarat, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and UP East. With this, Bharti Airtel’s 4G network will expand to 19 circles out of the total 22 circles in India.
The expansion follow the acquisition of spectrum from Videocon Communications in the above circles as well as UP West and Haryana. Before the deal, Airtel had 4G spectrum in 15 circles.
In circles like Haryana, Airtel was already offering 4G services, and the acquisition of new spectrum from Videocon will help it increase its network capacity.
It should be noted that Airtel’s spectrum in these new circles are on the 1800 MHz band.
The 1800 MHz band is divided on the frequency model (FDD), which allocates an equal amount of spectrum for uploading and downloading. This typically results in lower download speeds compared to band 40.
While users typically report download speeds of around 30-50 Mbps on band 40, on band 3 (1800 MHz), reported download speeds range from 4 Mbps to 15 Mbps.
Airtel, however, is trying to overcome such issues by introducing carrier aggregation, which helps the company join together more than one spectrum slot and use multiple spectrum ‘pieces’ to serve the same customer.
It has already introduced the technology — which requires support from the handset as well — in Kerala, and can be expected to do so in more circles like Haryana soon.
Airtel is gearing up for facing competition from Reliance Jio, India’s biggest 4G operator by network size.
According to a recent report, Reliance Jio owns 58% of the total wireless high-speed data capacity (3G + 4G) in India, while Bharti owns only 23%.
The Sunil Mittal company is handicapped by lack of 4G spectrum. Though Airtel has more spectrum than Jio, the company has diverted them to 2G and 3G networks, which tend to be able to carry lower quantities of data compared to a 4G network deployed on the same amount of spectrum.
In addition, high prices have kept the company’s utilization levels low. The pricing difference is so high that Jio is all set to overtake Bharti as the country’s largest provider of wireless data even before it passes the trial stage.