Bharti Airtel is focusing on rural markets to tap into the growing demand for 4G services in these regions and narrow the gap with market leader Reliance Jio.
CEO Gopal Vittal said 40% of the industry’s 4G net additions come from rural areas and the company is using the data science model to target specific growth areas.
“We send our people into the field to determine where the opportunity is. More importantly, we’ve designed and built low-cost sites that will allow us to grow profitably,” Vittal said in a post-results conference call on Tuesday.
By the end of September, Airtel had more than 327 million mobile customers.
Jio, which has yet to report its second quarter (Q2) results, had 419 million customers at the end of June.
Airtel reported a net profit of Rs 2,145 crore in the second quarter, an 89% year-on-year growth. Growth was driven by a 22% increase in revenue and an increase in 4G subscriber additions.
The company is also focused on capturing quality customers and converting prepaid to postpaid users to reduce churn and increase average revenue per user.
“Given the difficult financial situation that one of the players in the industry is going through, we believe the time is right for Airtel to step forward and be the most ambitious brand in India,” said he declared.
Airtel rolled out the 5G service in eight cities last month and is aiming for pan-India coverage by 2024.
“All Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Realme devices are now ready. Samsung and OnePlus will also be fully ready in the next few weeks. Apple shortly thereafter,” Vittal said.
Airtel has not made any changes to the tariff so far and offers both 4G and 5G networks at the same price. Vittal said the company is currently building out its 5G network and could make a decision on differential pricing within the next six to nine months.
As Airtel started its 5G rollout using non-standalone mode, it also started testing standalone mode on 5G.
“This mode may be relevant for some enterprise use cases. While these use cases are very specialized, we are already doing our trials to serve customers where they need it. We are also testing our millimeter wave spectrum for fixed wireless access,” Vittal said.