Airtel has started 4G trials in four cities, Rourkela, Manipal, Udupi and Tumkur, which brings its presence to 44 metropolitan areas in India. The telecom operator has started expansion into more tier 2 towns recently, probably due to the growing demand for fast data across India.
Airtel will use the information and feedback it receives from the new trials and observe the initial response to strengthen the network and solve any problems that might occur. It has partnered with Samsung to entice potential customers by offering a SIM swap when buying devices such as the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, J5 and J7. It will also bundle 4G cards along with select phones in the future.
Airtel is also offering 4G double data deals with the Samsung phones in addition to a number of other handsets by other manufacturers. Under the scheme, buyers can get twice the data for a number of months, ranging from 2 to 6. Smartphones such as the Micromax Canvas Sliver 5, Lenovo A7000, Xiaomi Mi 4i, and Moto E (2nd Gen) are available under the initiative.
According to the report by Times of India (via IANS), subscribers in the new cities can avail of the company’s complimentary plan to use 4G at 3G prices. This is a common strategy used by Airtel when trialing in new areas. Existing 3G consumers can go to any of its customer care outlet and get a 4G-enabled SIM card.
Airtel is the only major player offering 4G to regular customers currently, with rival Vodafone only recently having started its own trials. It will also face competition from Reliance Jio and Idea Cellular who are planning to launch the service in the latter half of 2015 and 2016, respectively.