NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel said that it will focus on both renewing its spectrum licenses and buying new spectrum for capacity expansion, including sub-GHz airwaves in the March auction.

Gopal Vittal, CEO of Airtel, during the post-earnings call said that the telco has prepared a full plan to deal with its rival’s [ Read Jio] plans to launch subsidised smartphone.

ET previously reported that the Sunil Mittal-led telco was in talks with various Indian handset brands like Lava and Karbonn and contract manufactures to launch smartphones.

“We would love to have a full footprint of the sub-Ghz spectrum in the country…would look at capacity and renewal in the upcoming auctions,” he said.

India’s first spectrum auction in over four years will kick off from March 1, setting the stage for Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) to bid for airwaves worth Rs 3.92 lakh crore at base price.

Airtel is expected to pay Rs 3,900-4,000 crore and Vodafone Idea Rs 7,500-8,000 crore towards the first instalment of their AGR dues, depending on the interest rate, according to analysts. The remainder needs to be paid by Tata Teleservices.

On 5G, Vittal said that the ecosystem is still in the nascent stage but it is quickly improving as the 5G enabled devices contributed 4-5% of the shipment in December as compared to nil in September. He added that there will be more shipments for 5G in the next 12 months.

Vittal added that there won’t be any material change in capex for the telco with the 5G technology coming in.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco recently demonstrated live 5G services on its commercial 4G network in Hyderabad using 1800 MHz band.

It said that it can commercially launch 5G services without the mid-band with the help of existing 4G spectrum bands but it will wait for the government to release 5G spectrum, especially in the mid-band.

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