3G in India – the beginning of the end?

3G in India – the beginning of the end?

In what is described as one of the first phase-outs of 3G technology globally, Indian telecommunications giant Bharti Airtel has announced the shutdown of its 3G network in Kolkata.

Airtel mobile broadband services in the city will now be available on high-speed 4G, albeit Airtel has said it will continue to provide 2G services in Kolkata to serve the connectivity needs of customers on feature phones

Airtel has refarmed the 900 MHz band spectrum being used for 3G to further strengthen its 4G network. The company also says it is deploying a network technology called L900, which will provide 4G network services over the 900MHz band to complement its 4G services in the 2300MHz and 1800MHz bands. 

The company plans eventually to refarm all of its 3G spectrum across India and deploy it for 4G in a phased manner. 

Meanwhile, Airtel Africa, the African division of Bharti Airtel, has raised around $750 million through a joint listing on the London and Nigerian stock exchanges, according to a regulatory filing. The initial public offering (IPO) comprised 744 million shares priced at UK£0.8 ($1.02), representing around 19% of the company’s issued share capital. A further 67.6 million shares are being made available via an over-allotment option. The issue price of £0.8 represented the bottom end of Airtel’s previously announced price range of £0.8-£1.00. The share price fell on the news in what the UK’s Financial Times newspaper called “a disappointing debut”.

Airtel plans to use the proceeds to help cut its debt burden, which Indian media suggest stands at around $15 billion.

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