Airtel doubles mobile sites in fight against Reliance Jio | business-news | Hindustan Times
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Airtel doubles mobile sites in fight against Reliance Jio

If Reliance Jio has started a telecom war in wireless data by offering free services, Bharti Airtel wants to win it by offering high quality services.

business Updated: Apr 06, 2017 18:43 IST
Sunny Sen
Airtel

A Bharti Airtel advertisement board is installed against the backdrop of company's telecommunication tower in the southern Indian city of Kochi November 30, 2012. (Reuters)

If Reliance Jio has started a telecom war in wireless data by offering free services, Bharti Airtel wants to win it by offering high quality services.

The Sunil Bharti Mittal-led telecom firm said on Thursday that in the past couple of years Airtel has deployed 1,80,000 mobile sites, doubling the number. To put that in context, before the current deployment in the past couple of years, Airtel had taken two decades to deploy 1,80,000 mobile sites.

The deployment is part of Project Leap, through which Airtel has made a commitment of Rs 60,000 crore of investment in the telecom business, especially in 4G broadband internet services.

Since the launch of Reliance Jio on September 5, 2016, wireless broadband services have become the new battle ground for telecom operators. While Reliance Jio quickly added 120 million subscribers, started a price war, became the reason for falls in profits, and is being credited for the merger of Idea Cellular and Vodafone, Airtel the largest telecom operator of the country lost 12% of its 3G and 4G user base in straight quarters ending December.

But, Mittal is not a man known to loose battles so easily. He has fought quite a few of them, including one with the Ambanis in 2003, when Reliance Communications launched the Monsoon Hungama, bringing down price of voice calls to 40 paisa per minute.

This time, too, he won’t give up the fight. The mobile site deployment is one of the largest in the world. Airtel is taking the battle from free services to quality of services. In the recent past Airtel and Reliance Jio engaged in a battle of whose mobile network is the fastest.

Airtel was rated the fastest by Ookla, a global leader in mobile speed tests, while data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority showed Reliance Jio was faster.

“This deployment will leverage our spectrum capacity and is yet another benchmark by Airtel in execution excellence. We are now in a position to ramp up future capacity on this network very quickly, giving us unmatched reach and agility,” said Abhay Savargaonkar, director -- networks, Bharti Airtel.

With the largest coverage Airtel hopes to plug in gaps in 4G coverage, which is still patchy in many areas. Reliance Jio is still playing a catch up with Airtel on the coverage front.