Bharti Airtel is all set to spearhead India’s 5G revolution as it now boasts of the largest mobile broadband footprint in the country. In the most recent spectrum auction held by the Department of Telecom, Government of India, the telecom giant acquired an enormous spectrum bank for a total consideration of Rs 43,084 crores.
Through this auction, Airtel has obtained 5G spectrum for 20 years. It boosted mid-band spectrum and acquired a pan-India footprint of the 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands, taking its total spectrum coverage to 19,867 MHz.
What the 5G spectrum acquisition means for Airtel
Acquiring this enormous amount of bandwidth that will be added to Airtel’s already existing pool of spectrum, which is the best in the industry, means the company will not have to spend large sums on spectrum for many years. Additionally, the acquisition allows Airtel to eliminate the unfavourable SUC arbitrage against new competitors, significantly lowering its payout for spectrum usage charges (SUC).
Gopal Vittal, M.D and CEO, Bharti Airtel commented, “We are confident that we will be able to deliver the best 5G experience in India in terms of coverage, speeds and latency. This will allow us to change a lot of established paradigms for both our B2C and B2B customers. 5G technology is the revolution that can alter India’s manufacturing, services and several other sectors. We remain fully committed to the Government’s Digital India vision and will continue to do what is needed to ensure that India becomes a beacon for the world in terms of technology.”
Airtel has been deliberate and smart in its acquisition strategy over the years and has managed to amass the largest pool of low and mid-band spectrum (Sub GHz/1800/2100/2300 bands). In addition to this, the enormous capacities in the 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands will enable the telco to produce 100X capacities at the lowest possible cost. The low total cost of ownership will give Airtel an ongoing competitive advantage for years to come.
Airtel 5G services coming sooner than expected
The telco now intends to roll out 5G services across the nation, beginning in some of the country’s major cities. In fact, Airtel, in a recent press release, stated that it will roll out 5G services by the end of August 2022. “Our network agreements are finalised and Airtel will work with the best technology partners from across the world to deliver the full benefits of 5G connectivity to our consumers,” the release said.
Considering the excitement surrounding the technology and the number of 5G enabled devices available in the market, Airtel is certain that customers will adopt 5G quickly.
Spearheading the 5G revolution for past few years
Airtel has a legacy of firsts, having demonstrated its 5G readiness several times over the last few years. It became India’s first telecom to successfully conduct a 5G trial in 2018, following it up with the country’s first rural 5G trial and first 5G trial on the 700 MHz band in 2021. Other Airtel 5G-powered achievements include creating India’s first private 5G network at BOSCH, launching the first 5G-connected ambulance in partnership with Apollo Hospital, and unveiling the first Airtel 5G-powered live hologram (175* Replayed).
The company also conducted India’s first Cloud Gaming event on a live Airtel 5G test network with ace gamers Mortal and Mamba in Manesar, Gurgaon last year, showcasing 10x speeds, 10x latency improvement, and 100x concurrency compared to 4G.
With virtually zero latency, 5G technology will significantly alter mobile connectivity capabilities. It is expected to lead to smarter healthcare, smarter factories, optimised IoT, AI, ML, AR, and VR technologies and a lot more.