India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel said it is spending INR64 billion ($1 billion) to aggressively expand its 3G coverage nationwide after acquiring additional spectrum in the March auction.
The operator’s 3G connections have doubled to almost 20 million over the past year to the end of March, but account for less than 10 per cent of total connections, according to GSMA Intelligence.
Its 3G base stations accounted for a third of its total at the end of Q1, up from 22 per cent a year earlier, the Economic Times reported.
Airtel, with a 23 per cent market share, operates its 3G network on the 900MHz and 2.1GHz bands in 21 of the country’s 22 service areas. It spent a total of INR291 billion in the auctions for 111.6MHz of spectrum in three bands, including 900MHz airwaves in eight additional regions.
It now offers 4G services in eight cities after expanding into Mysore earlier this month.
Airtel recently selected Nokia Networks to roll out its 3G network in five new service areas and expand its network in three existing regions. Under a four-year contract, Nokia will provide the radio elements — its Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Stations — as well as the network planning and optimisation.