Airtel India

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Airtel India
Founded7 July 1995; 24 years ago (1995-07-07)[1]
FounderSunil Bharti Mittal
HeadquartersBharti Crescent, 1, Nelson Mandela Road, New Delhi, India[1]
Area served
Key people
Sunil Bharti Mittal (Chairman and MD)
ProductsFixed line and mobile telephony, broadband and fixed-line internet services, digital television and IPTV
Members327.35 million[2]
(31 December 2019)
ParentBharti Airtel

Airtel India is the third largest provider of mobile telephony and second largest provider of fixed telephony in India, and is also a provider of broadband and subscription television services.[3] The brand is operated by several subsidiaries of Bharti Airtel, with Bharti Hexacom and Bharti Telemedia providing broadband fixed line services and Bharti Infratel providing telecom passive infrastructure service such as telecom equipment and telecom towers.[4][5] Bharti Airtel Limited is part of Bharti Enterprises and is headed by Sunil Bharti Mittal.

Airtel is the first Indian telecom service provider to achieve Cisco Gold Certification.[6] It also acts as a carrier for national and international long distance communication services. The company has a submarine cable landing station at Chennai, with a connection to Singapore. [2][7] Airtel was named India's second most valuable brand in the first ever Brandz ranking by Millward Brown and WPP plc.[8][9]

Mobile services[edit]

Airtel operates in all telecom circles of India. Airtel is the largest operator in rural India, with 144.76 million subscribers as of 30 November 2019.


On 18 May 2010, the 3G spectrum auction was completed and Airtel paid the Government of India 122.95 billion (US$1.7 billion) for spectrum in 13 circles, the most amount spent by an operator in that auction. Airtel won 3G licences in 13 telecom circles of India: Delhi, Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (West), Rajasthan, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, North East, and Jammu & Kashmir.[10] Airtel also operates 3G services in Maharashtra & Goa, Kolkata, Gujarat and Punjab circles through an agreement with Vodafone Idea. This gives Airtel a 3G presence in all 22 out of 22 circles in India. Airtel is fined by DoT 3.50 billion for not stopping offering 3G Services through Roaming Pacts outside its Licensed Zones in Seven Circles.

On 20 September 2010, Bharti Airtel said that it had given contracts to Ericsson India, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) and Huawei Technologies to set up infrastructure for providing 3G services in the country. These vendors would plan, design, deploy and maintain 3G–HSPA (third-generation, high-speed packet access) networks in 13 telecom circles where the company had won 3G licences. While Airtel awarded network contracts for seven 3G circles to Ericsson India, NSN would manage networks in three circles. Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huawei Technologies was introduced as the third partner for three circles.[11]

Airtel launched 3G services in Bangalore on 24 January 2011.[12] On 27 January 2011, Airtel launched 3G in Chennai and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. On 27 July 2011, 3G services were launched in Kerala's 3 largest cities – Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.[13]

Airtel 3G services are available in 200 cities through its network and in 500 cities through intra-circle roaming arrangements with other operators. Airtel had about 5.4 million 3G customers of which 4 million are 3G data customers as of September 2012. Airtel has 3G licence in all 22 circles.[14]

In October 2017, Bharti Airtel announced its acquisition of Tata DoCoMo having roughly 40 million subscribers.[15]

In 2019, Airtel shut down their 3G network in Kolkata. In Kolkata users can only access 4G and 2G networks. In an event, Airtel confirmed that it will shut down their 3G network all over India and re-farm the spectrum towards 4G by the year 2020. Then onwards Airtel will provide only 2G and 4G connectivity in the country.[16]


On 19 May 2010, the broadband wireless access (BWA) or 4G spectrum auction in India ended. Airtel paid 33.1436 billion (US$460 million) for spectrum in 4 circles: Maharashtra and Goa, Karnataka, Punjab and Kolkata.[17] The company was allocated 20 MHz of BWA spectrum in 2.3 GHz frequency band. Airtel's TD-LTE network is built and operated by ZTE in Kolkata and Punjab, Huawei in Karnataka, and Nokia Siemens Networks in Maharashtra and Goa.[18] On 10 April 2012, Airtel launched 4G services through dongles and modems using TD-LTE technology in Kolkata, becoming the first company in India to offer 4G services. The Kolkata launch was followed by launches in Bangalore (7 May 2012),[19] Pune (18 October 2012),[20] and Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula (25 March 2013).[21] Airtel obtained 4G licences and spectrum in the telecom circles of Delhi, Haryana, Kerala and Mumbai after acquiring Wireless Business Services Private Limited, a joint venture founded by Qualcomm, which had won BWA spectrum in those circles in the 4G spectrum auction.[22]

Airtel launched 4G services on mobile from February 2014. The first city to get the service was Bangalore.[23][24] Airtel has started their 4G services in Karnal and Yamunanagar in Haryana on 16 June 2015.[25] Airtel 4G trials has been started in Delhi from 18 June 2015.[26] Airtel had 95,173,000 4G subscribers as of June 2019.[27]

As of June 2019, Airtel provides 4G coverage in all India in 22 circles.[28] Airtel extended its 4G network to 15 km off India's coastline, following a request by the Indian Navy.[29] Airtel started its 4G in Andaman and Nicobar on 15 January 2019.[28] Airtel covered 96% population in Rajasthan till March 2019.[28] Airtel's network now covers approximately 98% of the population in these geographies.[28]


On 3 November 2016, The Economic Times reported that Airtel had awarded a 402 crore (US$60 million) contract to Nokia to implement Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) technology on the operator's network nationwide. Airtel had previously awarded a smaller contract to Nokia for trial of VoLTE technology in select circles in early 2016. Airtel subscribers would be able to place VoLTE calls in areas covered by LTE. If LTE was not available in the area, the call will fall back to 3G or 2G.[30] Airtel is expected to launch VoLTE services in early 2017. Airtel was to completely launch its VoLTE services in India till the end of December 2018. VoLTE service available in all India.


Radio frequency summary[edit]

Airtel India owns spectrum in 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz bands across the country.[31]

Telecom circle coverage FD-LTE
Band 5
Band 8
Band 3
Band 1
Band 40
Andhra Pradesh & Telangana Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Assam No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bihar & Jharkhand No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chennai Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Delhi Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Uttar Pradesh (East) No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gujarat No No Yes Yes Yes
Haryana No No Yes Yes Yes
Himachal Pradesh No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jammu and Kashmir No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Karnataka No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kerala No No Yes Yes Yes
Kolkata No Yes Yes No Yes
Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh No No Yes Yes Yes
Maharashtra & Goa Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Mumbai Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
North East No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Odisha No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Punjab No Yes Yes No Yes
Rajasthan No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tamil Nadu No Yes Yes Yes Yes
West Bengal No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Uttar Pradesh (West) No No Yes Yes Yes

Project Leap[edit]

On 30 November 2015, Airtel announced the launch of a network transformation programme called Project Leap. Under the programme, the company will invest 60,000 crores over the next 3 years to upgrade its network across India.[32] Airtel will deploy over 160,000 base stations nationwide, and also expand its mobile broadband coverage to over 500,000 villages. Under Project Leap, Airtel will introduce several technologies such as small cells, carrier aggregation solutions, WiFi hotspots, and several different spectrum bands to improve network coverage in indoor areas. The company will also deploy more than 5,50,000 km of domestic and international fibre, and upgrade its legacy networks and base stations over the three-year period.

Airtel Broadband will also benefit from Project Leap. The ISP's maximum offered speed will rise from 16 Mbit/s in 2016 to 50 Mbit/s when after the programme is implemented.[33]

On 14 June 2016, Airtel launched the Open Network initiative under Project Leap. The Open Network service allows users to view Airtel's mobile network coverage and signal strength across India, in addition to network site deployment status. This was first launched on a trial basis in December 2015, before its official launch in June 2016.[34]

In February 2016, Airtel deployed LTE Advanced carrier aggregation technology in Kerala. Carrier aggregation combines the capacities of TD-LTE (2300 MHz spectrum band) and FD-LTE (1800) enabling better spectrum utilisation and efficiency. The network achieved data speeds of up to 135 Mbit/s.[35]

Airtel Money[edit]

Airtel has started a new mCommerce platform called Airtel Money in collaboration with Infosys and SmartTrust (now Giesecke & Devrient). The platform was launched on 5 April 2012, at Infosys' headquarters in Bangalore. Using Airtel Money, users can transfer money, pay bills and perform other financial transactions directly on the mobile phone. It has an all-India presence.[36]


The iPhone 3G was rolled out in India in 2008 by Airtel. However, high prices and contract bonds discouraged consumers and it was not as successful as the iPhone is in other markets of the world. Airtel introduced the iPhone 4 on 27 May 2011 and the iPhone 5 on 2 November 2012.[37]

Subscriber base[edit]

The Airtel wireless subscriber base according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as of 31 December 2019 Airtel has 327.35 million wireless subscribers in India with 28.43% market share.[2] In 2016 version of The Brand Trust Report published by Trust Research Advisory, Airtel is placed as the most trusted mobile operator brand in India [38]

Airtel Broadband[edit]


Airtel launched its V-Fiber service in October 2016. Airtel V-Fiber is available in 103 cities in india with speeds up to 1 Gbit/s.[39] This service was later renamed as Xstream Fibre.[40]


Airtel Broadband launched its IPtV service in 2009. On 31 August 2016, the company shut down the service, and offered its 50,000 subscribers a free upgrade to Airtel Digital TV. The company stated that the move was part of its strategy to focus on a single television service.[41]

Net Neutrality Debate[edit]

In April 2015, Airtel launched a marketing platform called Airtel Zero, which allows application providers to pay for the data used by the consumers, enabling consumers to access specific mobile apps at zero data cost.[42] Flipkart, a leading Indian e-commerce firm reportedly was to become the launch partner of "Airtel Zero". The issue triggered debate on net neutrality in India[43] and following protests Flipkart pulled out of Airtel Zero.[44][45][46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Fact Sheet". Airtel.
  2. ^ a b c "Press Release on Telecom Subscription Data as on 31 December, 2019" (PDF). Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. 25 February 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Press Release on Telecom Subscription Data as on 31 March, 2019" (PDF). Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. 21 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Bharti Hexacom Limited: Private Company Information". Bloomberg.
  5. ^ "Profile: Bharti Infratel Ltd (BHRI.NS)". Reuters. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  6. ^ Agencies (22 August 2010). "Bharti Airtel gets Gold Certification". Express India. Archived from the original on 13 January 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  7. ^ Reporter, B. S. (13 September 2016). "Top three telcos have 61% market share". Business Standard India. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  8. ^ "HDFC Bank named India's most valuable brand in BrandZ ranking".
  9. ^ "India's top 10 brands". Archived from the original on 28 October 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  10. ^ Pahwa, Nikhil (19 May 2010). "". Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  11. ^ "Ericsson, NSN and Huawei to build 3G networks for Airtel – The Economic Times". 20 September 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Airtel launches 3G in Karnataka". The Times of India. India. 24 January 2011. Archived from the original on 28 January 2011.
  13. ^ "On 21 November 2018, Bharti Airtel Limited global telecommunications service provider company from India". 21 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Quarterly Report Q2 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 January 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  15. ^ "Bharti Airtel acquires Tata's mobile arm". The Hindu. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  16. ^ Pandey, Navadha (2 August 2019). "Bharti Airtel looks to phase out 3G network across India by March". Livemint. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  17. ^ "India's Broadband Wireless Auction Ends; Operator & Circlewise Results". 11 June 2010.
  18. ^ Biswas, Rudradeep. "Will 4G in India go 3G's way? In Depth Analysis By CARE Research - TelecomTalk". Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  19. ^ "Airtel 4G Services Launched in Bangalore". 7 May 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  20. ^ "Airtel 4G LTE Services Launched in Pune". 18 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  21. ^ Biswas, Rudradeep (20 March 2013). "Exclusive: Airtel to Launch 4G/LTE-TD Services in Chandigarh Today". Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Bharti buys 49 per cent in Qualcomm BWA unit for $165 million". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 May 2012.
  23. ^ "Airtel launches 4G on mobiles at same price as 3G – The Times of India". The Times Of India.
  24. ^ "Bharti Airtel offers 4G services on mobiles in Bangalore". The Times Of India. 14 February 2014.
  25. ^ Airtel 4G launch in Karnal and Yamunanagar Archived 17 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, News Exprezz, 16 June 2015.
  26. ^ Airtel 4G launch in Delhi Archived 17 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, News Exprezz, 16 June 2015.
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b c d "India's leading provider of Prepaid & Postpaid Mobile Services in India -". Airtel.
  29. ^ "4G LTE: How Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Aircel stack up - ET Telecom".
  30. ^ "Airtel signs Rs 402-crore deal with Nokia on VoLTE calling tech - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  31. ^ Pan India 2016 spectrum holding data sheet (updated), Telecom Talk, retrieved 16 February 2019
  32. ^ "Airtel launches website to allow users to track Project Leap". 29 December 2015.
  33. ^ "Airtel to invest Rs 60,000 crore in 'Project Leap'". The Hindu. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  34. ^ "Airtel's Open Network Launched on App, Shows Coverage Across India". NDTV Gadgets 360.
  35. ^ Biswas, Rudradeep. "Airtel to enable 4G data speeds up to 135 Mbps in Bengaluru, deploys 4G Advanced Carrier Aggregation - TelecomTalk". Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  36. ^ "airtel mcommerce-mobile money bill payments and recharge". Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  37. ^ "Airtel begins pre-orders of 16GB iPhone 5 in India for Rs. 45,500 | NDTV Gadgets". 29 October 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Airtel Broadband Plans - Internet Connection Plan". Airtel.
  40. ^ Pathak, Priya (1 November 2019). "Airtel broadband is now Xstream Fibre: New plans, new prices, unlimited voucher and other key details to know". India Today. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  41. ^ "Airtel to shut down IPTv service from 31st August, offers free migration to DTH platform". 18 August 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  42. ^ "Airtel launches 'Airtel Zero'". Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015. Archived from Bharti Airtel News Archived 15 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ Mishra, Lalatendu (15 April 2015). "Net neutrality debate rages". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  44. ^ Mahim Prathap Singh; Pradeesh Chandran (14 April 2015). "Following consumer backlash, Flipkart pulls out of Airtel Zero". The Hindu. New Delhi. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  45. ^ "Flipkart mobile app bears the brunt of the company's reported plans to join 'Airtel Zero'". BGR India. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  46. ^ "Consumers downvote Flipkart app after net neutrality controversy". India Today. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.

External links[edit]