Bharti Airtel’s unique 5G users cross 1-million mark

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has registered more than 1 million unique 5G users on its network in less than 30 days of the commercial launch of the service even as it expands its network in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Siliguri, Nagpur and Varanasi.

“These are early days but the response from customers have been very encouraging. Our network is being built every day even as all 5G devices are now capable of working on the Airtel 5G Plus network barring a few exceptions which should also be done in the coming weeks. We will continue to advance our network with a vision to connect the entire country,” said Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel.

Airtel is rolling out 5G services in the eight cities in phases as the company continues to construct its network and complete the rollout.

The telco had initiated 5G trials in 2021 and became the first operator to commercially launch 5G in the country. Customers with 5G smartphones will be able to use high-speed 5G, which the company calls Airtel 5G Plus, on their existing data plans until the rollout is more widespread.

Gopal Vittal, chief executive officer of the country’s second largest carrier, had on Tuesday said that Airtel will continue to keep 5G and 4G tariffs at existing levels for another six to nine months after which it may take a call on fixing separate tariffs for 5G. He had said that countries like the US, Thailand and South Korea which priced 5G differently from 4G saw very little uptake of the former, with only a fraction of customers of local telcos opting for premium 5G plans.

A number of devices already support 5G. Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and RealMe devices were now ready for providing 5G services of the carrier. “Samsung and One Plus will also be fully ready in the next couple of weeks. Apple soon thereafter. This cannot be said with alternate technologies where many devices will deliver either an inferior experience or simply not work on 5G,” he said,

Vittal also called for another round of tariff increases for driving 5G rollouts and digital adoption while cautioning against the low return on capital employed (RoCE) for the industry, at 8% due to low pricing for consumers, which, he said, was not sustainable.

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