Airtel set to launch 4G VoLTE service by March 2018

By : |July 27, 2017 0

Bharti Airtel Ltd plans to launch its own 4G VoLTE service to take on Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd by March 2018. Airtel India MD and CEO Gopal Vittal said the company has done VoLTE trials in 5-6 cities already. With this move, Airtel will become the second VoLTE-capable network in the country after Reliance Jio, which started its 4G VoLTE-only services last year.

“We have done (VoLTE) trials in 5-6 cities. Towards the end of this fiscal year, we will be taking VoLTE everywhere. The uptake of VoLTE devices will depend on certification. We should be very much national in the coming 6-9 months,” Vittal told.

Vittal said that 3G networks in India will be phased out faster than other parts of the world and “India will get to a situation where 4G and 2G will co-exist for a while.”

At present, Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Jio is the only operator in India offering voice on the 4G network using VoLTE technology, while the other telcos have been offering voice calls to their 4G customers with support of their other established networks – 2G and 3G.

Reliance Jio has announced that it will launch a 4G feature phone against one-time refundable deposit of Rs 1500 a unit. It will come preloaded with applications with the option of unlimited data usage and free calling service starting at Rs. 24.

“We believe that this could propel the launch of cheaper phones in the market and that is something that we embrace. We will work with all the device companies to encourage this. We will continue to look at an opportunity where we can bundle,” Vittal said while raising uncertainty over the JioPhone. Vittal also said that the price of the feature phone is higher than what is being sold in the market.

The total customer base of Airtel in India has increased by 9.7 percent to over 28 crores but its average revenue per user (ARPU) declined by 21.1 percent to Rs. 154 from Rs. 196 on year on year basis.

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