Bharti Airtel to invest Rs.60,000 crore in network expansion

New Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS) Bharti Airtel on Monday said it will invest Rs.60,000 crore in three years to provide better quality network to its customers.

“The programme, called Project Leap, will see a network transformation. Large parts of this investment will improve voice services,” Gopal Vittal, managing director and chief executive officer (India and South Asia) of Bharti Airtel, said here.

He said the money for investment will be generated from internal accruals and free cash flows.

This investment of Rs.60,000 crore is over and above the Rs.160,000 crore Airtel has already invested in its active and passive network, spectrum, optic fibre, submarine cables and systems till date.

Asked whether the company is going to invest a part of this fund for spectrum acquisition, Vittal said there was no immediate need as the company had bought sufficient spectrum in the last couple of years. There are only some telecom circles with gap in airwaves and hence the company may buy airwaves in those circles in future.

Under the 10-point agenda for this investment, the company will deploy over 70,000 base stations in 2015-16. By March 2016, over 60 percent of Airtel’s network will be mobile broadband-enabled.

In three years, Airtel will deploy over 160,000 base stations, effectively doubling its presence from what it is today on the ground.

It will expand its mobile broadband coverage to all towns and over 250,000 villages by March 2016. In three years, Airtel plans to offer mobile broadband to over 500,000 villages in the country.

Over three years, the company plans to deploy over 100,000 solutions (product services) through a combination of wi-fi hotspots, small cells and indoor solutions.

To serve the growing demand of data services in India, Airtel will also cumulatively deploy more than 550,000 km of domestic and international optic-fibre network.

Airtel will swap its legacy networks and base stations over a three-year period and replace them with smaller, more compact and efficient technologies that will significantly improve customer experience, Vittal said.

Among other initiatives, the company also plans to reduce its carbon footprint by up to 70 percent on a per unit basis in the next three years.

At present, Airtel has 236 million customers.

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