Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile operator, doubled the number of mobile network sites across the country over the past two years.
During its last two fiscal years, the operator said it deployed 180,000 sites – matching the total number of sites installed in India over its 20 years of operation. Its fiscal year ends 31 March.
In November 2015 Airtel announced Project Leap, a nationwide network transformation programme committing the operator to invest INR600 billion ($9 billion) over three years.
Airtel, which has a 23 per cent market share and 268 million mobile connections, also doubled its overall transmission capacity and increased its mobile backhaul capacity by eight times as its rolled out 4G and 3G coverage in the country’s 22 service areas, it said in a statement. The company also deployed more than 14,500km of fibre.
Abhay Savargaonkar, Airtel’s director of networks, said it is now in a position to ramp up future capacity on its network “very quickly”.
The market leader is facing intense competition from 4G newcomer Reliance Jio, which launched nationwide service in September and attracted 100 million subscribers in just five months with generous free offers of voice and data.
To boost its scale and help it compete against Jio, Airtel in February agreed to acquire Telenor’s operations in India, with 54.5 million subscribers, which will give the combined company about a 30 per cent market share.