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Airtel to rollout FWA on SA network, significant impact expected in FY2Q: Vittal.

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In Short:

Bharti Airtel is deploying fixed wireless access (FWA) services across 25 cities, with full impact expected in the second quarter of the fiscal year. Unlike Jio, Airtel is opting for standalone architecture (SA) for FWA deployment. Airtel’s focus on FWA is to monetize 5G investments. Jio has reported 108 million 5G subscribers, while Airtel’s user base is at 72 million. Both companies are working on FWA deployment to complement fiber reach. Monetizing 5G has been challenging for telecom operators.

Bharti Airtel to See Full Impact of Fixed Wireless Access Deployment in Q2

Bharti Airtel has announced that the full-scale impact of its fixed wireless access (FWA) services deployment will start to show in the second quarter of the current fiscal year. The FWA services have been deployed across 25 cities so far.

Deployment Details

Airtel’s FWA deployment is happening over standalone architecture (SA), similar to its rival Reliance Jio, unlike its cellular 5G deployment over non-standalone architecture (NSA). The CEO Gopal Vittal mentioned this during the recent earnings call.

Fixed wireless access (FWA) is considered a crucial first use case in 5G that will enable telcos like Airtel and Jio to monetize their investments in technology deployment.

Key Points

Vittal mentioned that the FWA deployment is currently in a pilot stage in one state and will be extended to another circle. The company is conducting trials to assess the performance of the deployment.

On the other hand, Jio has been rolling out its 5G network on a standalone basis. Airtel’s FWA deployment is taking time due to supply chain issues related to Customer Premises Equipment (CPE).

Future Plans

Airtel plans to accelerate FWA deployment in areas where fiber reach is insufficient. The company sees FWA as a complement to fiber and aims to utilize the unutilized spectrum on FWA for better network coverage.

Industry Challenges

Both Airtel and Jio, along with global peers, have found monetizing 5G a challenge. Airtel has called for a tariff hike to increase average revenue per user (ARPU) levels, while Jio’s ARPU has been impacted by 5G deflation.

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