In the backdrop of rising complaints of call drops, Bharti Airtel on Thursday commercially launched 4G services across the country, ahead of the entry of Reliance Jio towards the end of this year.
Airtel has 4G spectrum in 14 circles, while Reliance Jio has it in all the 22 telecom circles.
Customers have been complaining of increasing instances of call drops and lack of speed on the 3G network, which the company says is due to lack of spectrum and inadequate number of towers.
“We are not perfect, we will improve,” said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Bharti Airtel (India and South Asia).
Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator by sales, is offering 4G bundled with free voice and data at the rate of 3G in 296 towns. The tariff packs starts at Rs 25.
The Sunil Mittal-led company also announced plans to sell smartphones for as low as Rs 4,000. It has tied up with Samsung and Flipkart for 4G handsets.
In addition, with every 4G SIM swap, Airtel is offering six months of unlimited music streaming and downloads on ‘Wynk Music’, and five free movies per month for six months on the Eros Now channel of ‘Wynk Movies’. The company also introduced ‘Infinity Plans’ starting at Rs 999.
The company said it has invested Rs 1.10 lakh crore in the last five years, of which Rs 50,000 crore was spent in the last two years, primarily on spectrum and infrastructure.
So far, 4G is available in data format in India only.
Bharti has 230 million subscribers in 14 circles across the country.
Vittal conceded that the quality of the third generation (3G) services was still not up to the mark, and said: "We have been vocal about call drops."
"We have many challenges over spectrum. Towers and sites pose a bigger challenge. With the growth in data sector, we need more sites. That's a genuine struggle. The government had been supportive on this."
Around three weeks ago, Vittal had written to Airtel customers across the country to provide suggestions regarding tower sites and he said at the 4G launch event that the company received 20,000 responses, out of which 500 provided leads on potential sites.
(With inputs from IANS)