Airtel wants to take advantage of Vi’s cash crunch to grow its postpaid business

Bharti Airtel, India’s second largest telecom operator, is aware of the opportunity presented to it by the difficult financial situation of Vodafone Idea (Vi). When it comes to the postpaid segment, only Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel are the two major players with the majority of the market share. While Vi is at the top of the postpaid game here, it looks like Airtel has already changed it. According to a CLSA report that appeared around September 2022, Airtel and Vi had about 18 million and 20 million postpaid customers, respectively.

On the latest earnings call, Gopal Vital, managing director and CEO of Bharti Airtel, said they added 5 million new 4G customers in the second quarter while the postpaid segment grew by 300,000 net users. He said Airtel is now the leader in the postpaid space.

Vital also said that this is the right moment for Airtel to move forward as one of the carriers is under financial pressure. He, of course, referred to Vodafone Idea, which is its fierce competitor in the postpaid sector. Vital added that the opportunity is here for Airtel to take the lead, particularly in the postpaid sector.

Harti Airtel’s ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) figure jumped from Rs 183 in the first quarter to Rs 190 in the second quarter of FY23. The carrier has already announced 5G Plus network services for eight cities in the country. Airtel’s 5G Plus network is 5G NSA (not standalone) and will work on most 5G smartphones in India. All OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are now rolling out OTA (over the air) updates for their devices very quickly to ensure their devices have Airtel support in addition to Jio’s 5G.

By March 2024, Airtel’s CEO said the company expects to cover most urban areas as well as major rural areas with 5G networks. Jio said it will do the same by December 2023.

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