Airtel Expects Complete 5G Rollout in Urban Areas by 2023

For the year ended on March 31, 2023, Bharti Airtel's net profit almost stood at double, amounting to Rs. 8,346 crore.

Bharti Airtel now expects to complete the 5G rollout in urban areas and some key rural pockets by the end of 2023. A senior official of the company said on Wednesday that the investment in networks will be around Rs. 28,500 crore.

Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel Managing Director Gopal Vittal mentioned during the company's earnings call that the company’s decision to not bid for premium 700-megahertz band spectrum is helping to provide better coverage at a lower cost.

Statement by Gopal Vittal

"We are already in 3,500 cities and towns out of around 7,000 cities. We will conclude urban coverage this year and some of the key rural pockets," Vittal said.

He added that the company is seeing traffic offloads of up to 30 per cent in areas where 5G has been launched.

"I think the quarter's capex of Rs. 9,000 crore is little elevated, but if you take two full years, the capex is about Rs. 28,500 crores for the full year. As I mentioned before, if you take a three-year view, we will be broadly in that same ballpark of what we normally do. And we have reason to believe that the full-year capex for 2023-24, will be in the same broad ballpark as what we have the current year," Vittal stated.

Nonetheless, the company's capital expenditure in India doubled to Rs 8,989.4 crore.

"On a normalised basis we are already at Rs. 195. This was led by smartphone upgrades monetisation efforts and modest flow through increased tariff on the entry where we took pricing from Rs. 99 to Rs. 155," Vittal said.

Plans ahead 

Vittal, too, shared that the company is now looking to go deeper into the top 200 cities. When asked about Bharti Airtel's 5G network rollout compared to that of Jio, he signed off by saying, "We are not in a maniac rush to compete on the number of sites. The technology we are using is different. NSA is fundamentally different from SA. It gives us more coverage. Reliance Jio is rolling out a standalone 5G network, which means that it will provide only 5G services, but in NSA architecture, telecom operators can provide a mix of 5G, 4G, and other networks."

For the year ended on March 31, 2023, Bharti Airtel's net profit stood at almost double, amounting to Rs. 8,346 crore as compared to Rs. 4,255 crore a year ago.