Indian cellcos Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) have provided updates on their respective 5G rollouts, the Economic Times writes, citing comments made by company officials at the ET Telecom 5G Congress conference. Jio announced that it has deployed more than 50,000 5G base stations – around 94% of which were connected to backhaul fibre – covering a total of 406 cities. Jio CTO Shyam Mardikar was quoted as saying of timeline for the completion of the cellco’s 5G rollout: ‘We want to complete full urban coverage before May-end and by the end of summer we will be in most of the cities. We will complete our full deployment as the calendar year ends.’
Airtel MD Gopal Vittal, meanwhile, said of Airtel’s deployment: ‘Airtel is already covering 400 towns and we’re adding about 30 to 40 cities or towns every single day. By June … we will be in 4,000 cities. We have set a target to be across urban India by March 2024 [but] my sense is we will be there by September 2023’. The official went on to note that, in addition to its urban coverage, the cellco is also aiming to extend 5G coverage to 60,000-70,000 rural villages by the end of the financial year. Following the statement, Airtel published a press release reiterating the official’s main points but clarified that the cellco’s current 5G footprint stands at 500 cities.