Indian operator Bharti Airtel’s recently announced 5G network will cover 5000 towns in India by March 2024, its MD is reported to have announced.

Having announced that it will start its 5G deployment this month by recruiting Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung in as kit vendors, Bharti Airtel has reportedly revealed plans to cover 5000 towns across India by March 2024.

According to Indian press, the telco’s MD Gopal Vittal said on an earnings call: “We intend to launch 5G starting in August and extend to a pan-India rollout very soon. By March 2024 we believe we will be able to cover every town and key rural areas as well with 5G. In fact detailed network rollout plans for 5000 towns in India are completely in place… This will be one of the biggest rollouts in our history.”

He went on to add: “Our competition does not have such a large mid-band spectrum. Do remember that if we did not have this large chunk of the precious mid-band spectrum we would have had no choice but to buy an expensive 700 Mhz spectrum. And once we had bought it we would have had to deploy large power guzzling radios on this band. Not only would the cost have been higher, but it would also have led to more carbon emissions.”

Following concerns over the level of telco participation, it was announced last week that the Indian 5G auction raised US$19 billion, with operator Reliance Jio Infocomm accounting for well over half of that. Bharti Airtel pledged US$5.5 billion for frequencies in five bands, and all in all the Indian government successfully sold 71% of the 72,098 MHz of spectrum it put up for sale.

Bharti Airtel bid for and acquired 19867.8 MHZ spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz frequency and the next day announced it would start its 5G deployment in August and that it had recruited Nokia and Ericsson as kit vendors, whilst also bringing in Samsung to the mix which is first time the firms have worked together.

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