Airtel merges 4G spectrum in Mumbai to increase download speed

airtel-4gBharti Airtel has brought advanced 4G technology that conjoins the different blocks of spectrum it has in Mumbai circle, about six months after it introduced the technology to Kerala.

With this, Mumbai has become the second circle where the company has introduced ‘carrier aggregation’ technology, a part of LTE Advanced standard.

“The deployment will result in a superior 4G experience for Airtel customers through considerably faster data speeds and better coverage – indoors and outdoors. Customers with mobile devices that support 4G Advanced will be able to enjoy 4G data speeds of over 100 Mbps,” it said.

The move has come one day ahead of Reliance Industries’ chairman Mukesh Ambani’s anticipated unveiling of Reliance Jio’s tariff and business plans at the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

Spectrum is a crucial determinant of 4G experience, and one of the advantages that Reliance Jio enjoys against Bharti Airtel is its extensive spectrum holding.

Against an average of 25-30 MHz held by Airtel across the country, Jio holds an average of 35-40 MHz of 4G spectrum, giving the latter a significant advantage in terms of delivering higher and more consistent broadband speeds.

However, competitors like Airtel and Vodafone can try to overcome the issue of fragmented 4G spectrum holding by introducing aggregation technologies. The technology, as the name signifies, enables a single handset or dongle to tap into multiple bands of spectrum operated by the same telecom company — thus enhancing both the reliability as well as the speed of the data connection.

Airtel launched its 4G services in Mumbai in May 2015 on the 2300 Mhz band using the TD LTE standard and recently added capacity on the 1800 Mhz band using FD LTE. With today’s rollout, Mumbai is among the few cities globally to have high speed data services over 4G Advanced.

Under the carrier aggregation deployment, the capacities of TD LTE (2300 MHz spectrum band) and FD LTE (1800 MHz spectrum band) have been combined to enable better spectrum utilisation and efficiency.

In February 2016, Airtel deployed India’s first carrier aggregation in Kerala and the network achieved 4G data speeds of up to 135 Mbps on commercially available mobile devices.

According to Ajai Puri, Director – Operations (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel “ With the additional network capacity, customers in Mumbai can look forward to considerably improved data speeds and better coverage. We will extend the deployment of 4G Advanced in other geographies in the coming months.”

The deployment is a part of Airtel’s ongoing network transformation program – Project Leap, under which Airtel plans to invest Rs 60,000 crores over the next three years to meet the growing demand of voice and high speed data services in India and deliver the best network experience to its customers.