Airtel crosses 1 million customers on 5G network amid network build-up

NEW DELHI — Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Wednesday said it has surpassed 1 million customers on 5G network within 30 days of its commercial launch even while the network is being built.

Earlier, Airtel had announced phase wise roll-out of its 5G services in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Siliguri, Nagpur and Varanasi.

The services in these cities are getting rolled out in a phased manner as the company continues to construct its network and complete the roll-out, according to Airtel.

“Bharti Airtel…today announced that it has crossed the 1 million unique 5G user mark on its network. The company achieved this milestone in less than 30 days of its commercial launch even as the network is being built,” the company said in a statement.

Randeep Sekhon, Chief Technology Officer of Bharti Airtel, said 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,” Sekhon said.

The Airtel senior executive added: “We will continue to advance our network with a vision to connect the entire country.”

All 5G enabled smartphones, except Apple’s iPhones, will start supporting Airtel 5G services by the middle of this month, Bharti Airtel Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Gopal Vittal had said on Tuesday during the company’s earnings call.

Vittal had said Apple will release the software update in the first week of November and all of its devices should support the company’s 5G services by mid-December.

Airtel is providing 5G services at 4G rates but it is likely to take call on the pricing of the next generation services in the next 6-9 months, he added.

“Samsung… I think there are 27 models of 5G. 16 models are already ready and enabled. Rest will happen by November 10-12. OnePlus all 17 models will work on our network. Vivo all 34 models, Realme all 34 models will work on our network. Xiaomi’s all 33 models and Oppo all 14 models will work. Apple has 13 models. They will have (software update) release around the first week of November and by mid-December they should be all ready,” Vittal had informed.

According to market research firm IDC, 5.1 crore 5G smartphones were shipped from 2020 to first half of 2022 and they are expected to cross 50 per cent market share by 2023.

In the past weeks, however, several 5G smartphones were unable to access 5G services due to lack of compatibility between the network and the mobile phone.

Vittal said the company expects to cover all towns in urban India as also key rural areas by March 2024.

As per the company’s Q2 report, Airtel’s mobile services India customer base stood at 32.7 crore as on September 2022.

“4G data customers up by 17.8 million year-on-year and 5 million quarter-on-quarter, 64 per cent of overall mobile customer base,” Airtel Q2 results statement had said earlier this week. — (PTI)