Bharti Airtel is planning to migrate all its customers to 4G network from the older 2G or 3G network as a bid to compete with Reliance Jio. Jio’s network has been built on 4G network from the ground up and it does not support older 2G or 3G networks, giving it abilities to carry out easy migration.
The second largest telecom network led by Sunil Mittal has officially announced that it will move customers from older 2G or 3G network to high speed 4G network as demand for faster network grows in the country. The company executive has revealed that it will use the premium airwaves it owns in the 900MHz spectrum, currently used for deploying 2G services, for the 4G network. This can be seen as a last ditch effort by the company to stay competitive against Jio and its growing user base.
“We are seeing dramatic growth in 4G demand, and over a period of time, the 900 Mhz band will purely serve our 4G customers, while 2G services will be continue to be available on the 1800 Mhz band,” Gopal Vittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel told ET in an interview.
In the interview, Vittal revealed that the company is not generating any substantial revenue from 3G network and signaled the plan to shut down its 3G operations. “The demise of 3G technology is rapidly drawing near,” Vittal added. He also revealed that Airtel is working on a ‘transition strategy’ for migrating consumers from 3G to 4G while the telco finds ways to deploy the 900MHz band for 4G network.
Airtel currently owns 116 units of airwaves across the 900MHz band in 16 circles and they are being dedicatedly used for 4G services right now. The company has already refarmed the 900MHz airwaves in Karnataka for 4G services and Vittal highlighted that network will “vary circle-wise and hinge on the degree of revenues emanating from 2G services.”
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In order to boost its average revenue per user, the company has also introduced new minimum value recharge packs in states like Tamil Nadu, UP-West and Punjab. The move follows the launch of smart recharge plans starting at Rs 25 and the company says it would introduce new offers that will force users to directly upgrade to smartphones.