3 Months Ago I was the first to write that Airtel’s 4G LTE Strategy is to sabotage the hype surrounding Reliance Jio Infocomm and since then the management has taken giant strides to launch 4G LTE in 300 Cities across India.
One of our users tried Airtel 4G continuously for a week in Mumbai Region and files that Airtel 4G speed averages 4x of 3G, coverage remains patchy and more (capex) needs to be done. Aitel 4G speed unsurprisingly, is good – averages 15-20Mbps compared to 3-8Mbps for 3G currently. However, we expect the speed should reduce over time as the network starts to fill up. Expect capex to rise esp. given Reliance Jio’s 800MHz spectrum across 10 circles. Even in key biz districts in Mumbai (highest data usage areas) and key roads, the coverage is patchy currently. This should improve but Airtel will have to invest in the so called SmartPhone Network 🙂
Airtel’s Marketing focus is firmly on 4G (TV, billboards, in-store ads) and industry checks indicate 4G is getting decent subscriber traction albeit constrained by 4G handsets. The exclusive Airtel store had seven large banners; five of which were on 4G. Marketing focus (incl. TV, billboards, instore pamphlets) is on 1) Data speed, and 2) 4G data priced at 3G. There is also some focus on 4G handsets but current transition to 4G is primarily from subs that already have 4G handsets. Note that Bharti has tied up with vendors / ecommerce players for handsets.