Airtel expects to complete 3G switch-off by March

5 Aug 2019

Indian cellco Bharti Airtel is expecting to complete its switch-off of 3G networks by the end of the current financial year, in March 2020, the Economic Times writes, citing CEO Gopal Vittal. The official explained in a post earnings call that the operator is expecting to complete the deactivation of its 3G networks in six or seven circles by September, and the entire network by the end of March. ‘On spectrum, probably by April 2020 we will really have only 2G and 4G. So all our spectrum will sit on 4G other than the administered spectrum which is on 2G, plus small slug of spectrum that we require to run our 2G networks … everything else will be sitting on 4G band,’ Mr Vittal was quoted as saying. The operator began refarming its 3G spectrum to 4G in June this year, starting with Kolkata, due to the growing demand for 4G data services and the shift in the device ecosystem to 4G-only devices. It plans to maintain its 2G networks for the immediate future to serve customers with 2G feature phones.

Airtel CFO Badal Bagri, meanwhile, added that the industry is beginning to stabilise following the recent consolidation drive but competition is still keeping prices too low, noting: ‘While we have witnessed revenue growth despite any outright tariff increase, we continue to believe that prices needs to move up in the long term to ensure industry viability’.

India, Bharti Airtel