OUR REPUTATION AS AN IMPECCABLE SERVICE PROVIDER HAS BEEN A KEY DRIVER OF OUR SUSTAINED GROWTH OVER THE PAST 25 YEARS. AS AN INTEGRATED TELECOM SERVICE PROVIDER, WE AIM TO INVEST IN ADVANCED AND INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES TO LAY THE FOUNDATION OF FUTURISTIC DIGITAL SERVICES.
Sustained Capital Investments in our Network Infrastructure
The spurt in data traffic has made it imperative for us to have a stronger presence across different spectrum bandwidth to widen our customer base. We are enhancing customer experience by widening and deepening the network coverage whilst focusing on expanding to new towns, and strengthening the network in existing towns through addition of more sites and small cells in hotspot areas. During the year we added 86,270 4G Base stations and 23,000 Km of fiber across India to support a robust 4G network. This has helped us to provide a seamless network experience with improved voice quality and data speed.
Ranked by OpenSignal, Tutela and Ookla for video experience, lower latency and highest downlink throughputs
Spectrum in 800 MHz Band
Spectrum in 800 MHz Band
Spectrum in 1800 MHz Band
Spectrum in 2100 MHz Band
Spectrum in 2300 MHz Band
Increasing network penetration
Investing in the future – Building 5G capabilities
To be a future ready enterprise, we are in continuous pursuit to upgrade our existing 4G base stations with 5G capabilities. The rising demand for high speed data has escalated the need for 5G services in one of the world’s largest telecom markets. The proposed investments in the current networks will deliver best-in-class connectivity to Airtel consumers, laying a strong foundation for 5G services in the near future.
In association with OEMs and application developers, we are conceptualizing 5G Trials. These trials help to showcase our 5G capability through various enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and Industrial Use cases and applications. The Mobile core network has been decentralized to Edge and it is bringing content closer to the user. In order to further optimize peering of packet core network and caching engines, we have been working closely with OTT partners. This has helped to reduce latency, thereby improving user experience and download speeds, making the network more agile.
Additionally, in collaboration with some of the world’s leading telecom gear makers, we are in the process of designing a transport backbone network. This would help to achieve simplification using segment routing and expansion of the IP networks, to enhance our reach in rural areas. The network will be highly scalable, utilizing IP & Optics synergy with 100G to 200G upgradable links that can evolve to fulfill future network requirements of Slicing, Traffic Engineering and Clocking. This is going to significantly increase overall customer experience in multiple locations by providing higher service availability and reduced network interruption and latency.
Case study 1
Overcoming challenges to broaden our reach
We are the first operator to launch 4G services in Leh, Kargil & Dras regions. The launch underlines the efforts of our network team to overcome the challenges of harsh weather and tough terrain to empower the residents of these villages, spread across a 150 km stretch from Kargil – Batalik – Hanuthang – Skurbuchan to Khalsi. We are also the first operator to bring high speed mobile broadband to these areas, connecting them to the digital superhighway network in Ladakh. Our 4G services have empowered the local community and enabled local residents to enjoy digital services like HD quality video streaming, superfast downloads and uploads and high speed internet browsing on Airtel’s state-of-the-art 4G network. With Airtel 4G services, the locals, army and tourists visiting Kargil & Leh will now benefit from Airtel's high quality telecom network.
New towers installed
New customers benefitted with the initiation of services
Population covered in Ladakh
Case study 2
Connecting the remote villages
Under an agreement signed between USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) and Airtel's mobile services will be provided to identified villages without network coverage. Further, Airtel will enable seamless mobile coverage along National Highways in the North Eastern parts of the country (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim) covering 2,128 remote villages, with the installation of 2,004 towers.
During the long rainy season, villages situated near the Brahmaputra River often remained disconnected from the mainland. To provide network connectivity to these areas, in FY 2019-20, we started tower installations in this area. The project is in the final phase of execution and is likely to be functional soon.
An integrated telecom service provider
India has the 2nd highest number of internet users in the world, with 687.62 Mn subscribers till the end of September 2019. Out of these, number of wired internet subscribers are 22.26 Mn and number of wireless subscribers are 665.37 Mn.* Additionally, with the advancement in technology and the Government of India’s vision of a ‘Digital India’, the need for robust network infrastructure is expected to grow. In line with this vision, we continue to make sustained capital investment to reinforce our network infrastructure, with an objective to provide best in class mobile broadband experience to our customers.
We now connect 7,907 census towns and 788,185 non-census towns and villages with mobile services, covering 95.4% of India’s population with its 4G network. We also remain focused on expanding our reach in rural areas and improving experiences significantly. With increasing data consumption, improvement in spectrum efficiency through planned measures like refarming of 900 & 2100 MHz spectrum for 4G and usage of cutting-edge technologies like massive MIMO deployments are imperative. Massive MIMO equipments/ solutions were deployed to support large gatherings with a high demand for data hot spots including at Delhi Airport, Gurgaon Delhi toll and T20 cricket matches etc. thereby resulting in better throughputs. Further, our 3G services have been shut down in majority of the circles and the 2,100 band spectrum has been refarmed to 4G for meeting ever increasing 4G data demands.
Digital TV Services
Non-Census Towns and Villages
Optic Fiber Network (RKms)
Total Mobile Broadband Base Stations
Mobile Network Towers
Minutes on Network
Data Traffic (MBs)
Data Traffic (MBs)
As a continued promise to provide best in class mobile broadband experience to our customers, we added 86,270 4G Base stations and 23,000 Km of fiber across India to support the 4G growth. In order to remain ahead of the data demand curve, the Company continued to expand its “Project Leap” initiative with sustained investments targeted towards building data capacities and a superior 4G network across the country. We also installed Broadband Remote Access Server (BRAS) to core server (SRC, Radius, VTA) communication migration system from 1G to 10G line cards for enhanced redundancy to ensure network availability and reduced risk of network failure. We also implemented LAG uplink between BRAS & ISP router for improved redundancy, load balancing and ease of operation. Further, we established a Tx Expressway connecting Hyderabad-Bangalore- Mumbai-Kolkata-Jaipur for upto 100G intercity connectivity to support multiple network services.
Digital TV Services
Airtel's digital tv business is one of the leading DTH service providers in the country, which provides access to a gamut of premium channels and the largest number of entertainment channels for its subscribers.
Airtel Business (B2B)
With a diverse portfolio of services to enterprises, governments, carriers and small and medium businesses, we are one of the leading and most trusted provider of ICT services in India offering fixed-line voice, data and other connectivity solutions like MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching), VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking to small and medium enterprises. Additionally, we also offer Audio, Video and Web Conferencing solutions to businesses. Our services also include network integration, data centers, managed services, enterprise mobility applications and digital media solutions.
We offer VAS services like International Toll-Free Services and SMS hubbing. Our strategically located submarine cables and satellite network connect customers across the world and help to reach remote areas. Our global network runs across 250,000 Rkms, covering 50 countries and 5 continents.
Global network runs (RKms)
Global PoPs (Point of Presence)
Submarine cable systems
Leading with Digitisation
Airtel’s focus on digitisation, innovation and automation ensures operational excellence to offer phenomenal customer experiences. We have revamped our network operations to support an advanced network with opportunities for real-time monitoring and rectification. A large suite of tools have also been created for best in class data analytics, to enable a commendable control over the network elements and to ensure better response to customer requirements.
We became the first telecom company in the country to enable voice calls through WiFi (VoWiFi). The technology can be accessed over any home or public WiFi network to enhance indoor voice calling experience for Airtel users. It allows customers to make telco grade calls to any network without any extra charges or any additional calling App/SIM. The introduction of VoWiFi and deep penetration of VoLTE network has ensured a daily active VoWiFi subscriber base of over 1.6 Mn#. The service is available on 200+ handset models across 25+ brands covering around 38 Mn# smartphone customers. The average usage of Airtel Wi-Fi Calling per customer, per week has gone up to 100 minutes, which reaffirms their faith in the quality of the service.
#As on March 31, 2020.
- We introduced network digitisation with auto-ticketing at Netcool and remedy. Along with intra-access network domain correlation and interdomain correlation with transport, this has helped in reducing the time to isolate the faults and expedite rectification time.
- Homes Network View (HNV) web portal & mobile app was created for use across Call Center & Field operations. Additionally, predictive Decision Tree tool uses real-time network quality of the customer home connection to enable faster fault identification and resolution.
- We have also set up a dedicated Customer Experience Analytics Portal. The portal has helped to create a Big-Data library with features like CRM (Customer Relationship Management), VTA (Voloum Tracker), MSAN (Multi Service Access Node) and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) to analyse quota and speed of the usage in comparison to the rental plan. The initiative helped to improve customer experience as speed plans were upgraded for 3.5 lakh customers.
- Enterprise Network View (ENV) for B2B web portal was created for faster troubleshooting of B2B customer faults and complaints.
- We introduced Network outage SMS automation service.
- We also introduced MRTG (Multi Router Traffic Grapher) portal for generation of Broadband network utilization reports and development of productive tools.
- Enabled pan India MYCOM KPI reports like - (i) BRAS health reports (ii) PRI Voice traffic reports (iii) Voice ASR Summary report (iv) Voice IMS BHCA report (v) Voice IMS ASR report.
- Application for capturing customer complaints was included in Airtel Thanks Application. This helped to capture customer complaints without the need to visit customer premises, resulting in faster resolution of issues with available data.
- Auto complaint categorization: Inhouse tool was launched to resolve complaints faster.
- Auto provisioning of circuits was carried out for Transmission & B2B use cases across Transport, Fiber & IP networks. This reduced the time needed for provisioning of an order, from a few hours to minutes.
Spectrum refarming was completed in 10 circles where 900Mhz liberalized spectrum was being refarmed from 2G to 3G. To further improve customer experience and enable VoLTE penetration, Airtel’s spectrum was refarmed to 4G network. The L900 launch reduced complaints associated with network coverage and increased VoLTE uptake by at least 10%. In addition, steps were taken to improve spectral efficiency with the launch of L2100 after closing Airtel's 3G services. This converted 80K 3G sites to 4G sites, resulting in a gain of 4G data capacity by 10PB.
Our response to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted business growth across the world. The telecom sector remained a pivotal sector amidst tough times, providing unabated connectivity (of network and data). The lockdown across the country resulted in a surge in data consumption. However, our network response team was quick to respond to customers without fail. Across mobility, broadband and B2B operations, we segregated the most critical activities to be performed across the country to ensure uninterrupted service for our customers while ensuring complete safety for our field staff. Partnering with our strategic and operations partners, we continuously worked to keep the network running, to provide ‘essential’ telecom service across India. A central operations room was established with clear protocols to combat the risk of COVID-19 ensuring complete adherence to government guidelines. Protective equipment, gloves, sanitizers and movement passes were also commissioned for the field team. Some of the key steps undertaken were:
- Purchase of soft capacities and temporary licenses to cater to the growing data consumption.
- Ensured connectivity during increased traffic in rural and semiurban areas.
- Soft optimization at the circle & MS partners, on more than 160k cells to balance traffic across sites & layers of the 4G network.
- Teams deployed to provision broadband connections (FTTH rollouts) following proper sanitization and hygiene protocols – to ensure high speed connectivity to customers, wherever entry of personnel was allowed.
- Video streaming content constituted 60% of the traffic. Hence, we restricted the video streaming from HD (720 or higher) to SD (480p or lower) for mobile users.
- Bandwidth upgrades included:
Broadband customer migration on 69 new downlink interfaces on BRAS