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Airtel under pressure to step up tower rollout in northeast India

Airtel under pressure to step up tower rollout in northeast India

Bharti Airtel and its subsidiary Bharti Hexacom are under fire for the lack of progress they have made deploying towers in northeast India as part of a INR16.5 billion ($237 million) government programme.

The Economic Times reports that the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association has petitioned the Indian government to open an investigation into Airtel’s rollout to determine why it has not kept to its proposed schedule.

At the end of 2017, Airtel and Hexacom were awarded the contract and tasked with deploying over 2,000 towers across the six states that make up India’s northeast region. However, by the end of last year, only 50 sites had been constructed. In its defence, Airtel noted that it had chosen to make most of the sites 4G ready at its own expense.

The vendor group’s chairman NK Goyal said that the government must take “suitable action” to pressure Bharti Airtel and Hexacom into speeding up their site building, particularly as the northeast region has low overall connectivity levels due to a lack of infrastructure.

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