Why Airtel wants to Rollout / Expand Wi-Fi Network in India?

Earlier this Month, Mr. Sanjay Kapoor in an Analyst call revealed Airtel’s Wireless Data / Broadband Strategy. They have repeatedly said that they will be present in 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and any other incremental technologies by which they can serve their customers.

Current Status of Airtel Wi-Fi Network / Hotspots
Airtel is already offering 1 GB / Month for Rs 99 as an add on on your Airtel DSL Broadband in 9 cities with limited coverage. Going forward the company plans to expand the offering on a big scale.

Why a Wi-Fi network makes sense for Telecom Operator?
With 3G Rates still as high as Rs 250 / GB with a 30 day validity and a nationwide ARPU of mobile Subscriber at around Rs 150 / Month, Data Services appear expensive.

Mobidia conducted a research on understanding of consumer behavior surrounding data usage on all the networks to which smartphones frequently connect, including mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks. Surprisingly, the report concluded that Wi-Fi data consumption exceeded that for cellular by a factor of two to one and that Wi-Fi accounted for 65% percent of smartphone users’ data connections. This result shows indirectly that smartphone users may enjoy the value added features on smartphone mainly through WiFi – which partly explains the rationale behind the demand for 3G / WiFi smartphones.

Airtel’s Wi-Fi Strategy for India
WiFi is a long-term plan for Airtel rather than a short-term strategy (to compensate for its somewhat immature 3G / 4G network) as WiFi provides high speed but is low cost to build and operate, which is very suitable for use as an urban network. I’d say that Airtel has outlined a clear roadmap for the Indian WiFi market and believe that continuous investment in WiFi hot spots will only increase the popularity of WiFi in India and that this will stimulate WiFi smartphone demand where consumers can offload their bandwidth intensive tasks on to wi-fi network at lower costs.

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