Airtel To Invest Rs 60K On Network Upgrades In 3 Years
Bharti Airtel on Monday announced an investment of Rs 60,000-crore investment over the next 3 years for upgrading its telecom network capacity. The move came at a time when Mukesh Ambani prepares to roll out 4G services under his Reliance Jio venture.
Airtel said its capital expenditure in network will rise by a whopping 25 percent in the said period. Currently, the firm’s annual capex is around Rs 16,000 crore, which would go up to Rs 20,000 crore. This amount to be invested in its ‘Project Leap’ would be largely towards upgrading its network and only a smaller portion will go towards spectrum purchase, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (Indian & South Asia) in a statement.
Vittal explained that ‘Project Leap’ is a 10-point program which will transform Airtel’s network. “Under the program, the company will double its base stations from 1.60 lakh currently over the next 10 years. Massive modernization of networks, upgrading of copper line, swapping out legacy networks, massive reduction in carbon footprint by 70 per cent and enabling customers to understand the project are some of the other initiatives under the project,” he explained.
The investment will enable Bharti Airtel’s customers to avail broadband speeds of 50 Mbps from the current 16 Mbps by 2016. In addition, Bharti plans to offer speeds of up to 100 Mbps through its fibre-to-home network. Its investment will be used to set up a new data centre in the country and to expand its network to offer payments bank services. The company will also upgrade its existing telecom infrastructure, according to reports.
The telecom industry is marked by fierce competition. Reliance Jio is expected to launch its commercial 4G services by end of this year to stay afloat. Vodafone India, which plans to launch the same by the end of next month, also recently announced fresh investment of Rs 13,000 crore for capacity augmentation and new business initiatives in India. Idea has just acquired liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band from Videocon Telecommunications in two of its important circle — Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh (West) — to offer 4G services.
Airtel highlighted some more ambitious plans in its statement. The company to expand its mobile broadband coverage to all towns and over 2.5 lakh villages by March 2016. In three years, Airtel plans to offer mobile broadband to over 5 lakh villages in the country. The company plans to deploy over 1lakh solutions (product services) through a combination of Wi-Fi hotspots, small cells and indoor solutions. To serve the growing demand of data services in India, Airtel will also cumulatively deploy more than 5.5 lakh km of domestic and international optic-fibre network.
“Airtel will swap its legacy networks and base stations over a three-year period and replace them with smaller, more compact and efficient technologies that will significantly improve customer experience,” Vittal said. The company also plans to reduce its carbon footprint.
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