Airtel may soon say goodbye to 3G services

The country’s second largest telecom services provider, Airtel, might soon be disbanding its 3G services, and moving to 2G and 4G completely as part of its Project Leap.

The country’s second largest telecom services provider, Airtel, might soon be discontinuing its 3G services, and moving to 2G and 4G completely as part of its Project Leap.

"The issue is that some of our customers are still on the 3G compatible handsets. Otherwise, 3G is not that profitable service for us,” sources told DH.

It is estimated that over 95% of the Airtel’s 350-million subscribers have already switched over to 4G. During its recent earnings call, the company said that it had added over 7.5 million 4G subscribers on its network during the second quarter ended September 30, 2018.

As part of its Rs 60,000-crore Project Leap, the company is said to be investing more in VoLTE networks. The company has recently seen a surge in its customers moving to the VoLTE network, a source said. The company is estimated to have over 30 million customers on its VoLTE network.

The company services its 4G network through three spectrum bands – 1,900 Mhz, 2,100 Mhz, and 2,300 Mhz.

In fact, Airtel's executives have already hinted towards discontinuing 3G service, with its CEO saying that “3G networks will get sunset very soon and migration towards VOLTE”.

“We are seeing dramatic growth in 4G demand, and over a period of time, the 900 Mhz band will purely serve our 4G customers, while 2G services will continue to be available on the 1800 Mhz band. The company will have ‘a transition strategy in place’ in the run-up to deploying all its 900 MHz band spectrum for 4G services,” company’s CEO, Gopal Vittal said in a recent earnings call.

Airtel executives are of the opinion that the contribution from 3G services to the company is very minimal. “Today, if you look at our 3G devices and the contribution of these 3G devices to our overall revenue, it's almost negligible, so we could very soon see the demise of 3G as a technology,” Vittal had said.

The company is also working on launching Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (massive MIMO) technology, a key enabler for 5G networks, starting from Karnataka.

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