Airtel to shut down 3G network by March

New Delhi: Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Friday that it expects to shut down its entire 3G network across the country by March 2020, the process for which has already started with Kolkata service area. The company said it is keeping razor sharp focus on driving greater realisation and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) but emphasised that tariffs need to move up in long term for industry viability.

The process of switching off the 3G network has already started with Kolkata in the recent-concluded June quarter. By September, the shut down will be affected in 6-7 more circles and between December and March the entire 3G network would be shut down, Gopal Vittal, CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said during the company's post earnings call.

"Yes, we do see an upgrade when someone moves from 2G to 4G...On spectrum, probably by April 2020, we will really have only 2G and 4G. So all our spectrum will sit on 4G other than the administered spectrum which is on 2G, plus a small slug of spectrum that we require to run our 2G networks...everything else will be sitting on 4G band," Vittal said.

The company has added 8.4 million 4G customers and has 120 million data customers of which about 95 million are on 4G. Data usage by Bharti's subscribers has now reached over 11 GB/month. Airtel had said Thursday that in line with its focus on network experience, it has re-farmed spectrum from 3G networks to 4G across both the 900 as well as 2100 bands and begun the process of shutting down 3G networks in India.

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