Incumbent Telecom Operator Bharti Airtel Ltd has been managing 2G / 3G and 4G Networks. Though off late, they are re-farming the 3G Spectrum to 4G LTE Network. An achievement worth mentioning is that Airtel has offloaded 37% of its Voice Traffic to VoLTE. This is made possible with the mass availability of VoLTE compatible handsets in the market. Additionally, 38m subs can use VoWi-Fi based on device compatibility; 2m are the daily active subs and 5m+ users have used this service till now at least once. Post Airtel VoWi-Fi rollout, there has been a 73% increase in call duration and 42% reduction in failed call attempts due to improved indoor experience.
850MHz acquired from Tata Indicom is actively used by Airtel. Airtel has 850MHz wireless spectrum in 5 circles though it has 5MHz in none of these. In two circles, it uses the 850 band for LTE. Being sub 1 GHz spectrum, it is used to improve reach and indoor coverage. Also, in 2 out of these 5 circles, Bharti did not have sub-1GHz spectrum before Tata acquisition.
How does Jio Compare with Airtel in Sites, Data Traffic and Revenue ?
JIO has ~32% more locations than Airtel and ~7% lower revenue than Airtel, thus Bharti’s revenue per location is significantly higher. In our view, this is on account of JIO’s network being significantly bigger since it carries 2x data traffic of Airtel. Airtel till derives ~30% of its revenue from 2G users, the capacity and the equipment count required to support this revenue is significantly lower. Thus it makes sense for Bharti to continue supporting 2G users in the near term. Over time, as Airtel expands its 4G footprint and migrates 2G consumers to 4G, expect revenue per location for both telcos to converge.
My Airtel Digital App supported the Telco during COVID-19 Lockdown as online top-ups rose to 70% during lockdown vs. 35% before. <1% chares are there for online topups. Pre-paid dealer commission is netted off from reported revenue. Hence any savings in dealer commissions would manifest as higher revenue. Airtel serves Premium Customers in the Market through their special Airtel Thanks Plan and Bundled Offers.