Airtel plans $9b network upgrade project

01 Dec 2015

India's largest operator by subscribers Bharti Airtel has revealed plans to invest 600 billion rupees ($9.02 billion) rupees over the next three years to upgrade its network in preparation for the 4G era reaching the market.

The company has announced Project Leap, which is set to be the most expensive investment project ever undertaken by the operator, the Economic Timesreported.

The project will involve overhauling and expanding the operator's mobile network while laying both local and international fiber backhaul.

By making the investment, Airtel is preparing for the imminent entry into the market of Reliance Jio Infocomm, an operator with plans to roll out a nationwide 4G network, as well as other operators planning to compete in the 4G space.

Airtel is on track to have rolled out 70,000 base stations during the financial year ending in March next year. The company plans to double the number of its base stations in operation over the next three years. Airtel currently operates around 160,000 base stations nationwide.

The investment will also involve rolling out more than 550,000km of fiber, the report states.

The announcement comes weeks after Vodafone committed to investing more than 130 billion rupees towards expanding its own network in India and pursuing plans to enter the payments bank sector.

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