Airtel kicks off 4G trials in Shillong

Bharti Airtel has started rolling out 4G trials in the North East of India beginning with Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, with plans to expand to other places in the region soon. That brings its tally to 45 metropolitan cities across the country.

As an introductory deal, Airtel will offer its Shillong customers an upgrade to 4G speeds at 3G rates. They’ve adopted this approach in every place where 4G has been started so far. The telecom operator started the testing the faster network’s signal in the city two months ago, in order to ensure there users would not face any problems after launch.

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Saurabh Goel, Airtel’s CEO of North Eastern States and Assam (NESA), said in an interview with PTI, that the company has grown 14% in the previous fiscal, going through a setback because the coal mining industry in Meghalaya has closed. He was optimistic about the brand’s development in the North East this year, saying they were upbeat on Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.

The telecom company’s NESA operations collected a revenue of Rs 2000 crore in 2014-15, with a user base of 90 lakh helping it to capture a 40% market share in the area. Goel went on to say Airtel would focus on corporate consumers and migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, as the brand had a strong presence in those states.

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He further mentioned special combo offers for voice and internet plans in order to appeal to the youth. Airtel has also started go-to-market partnerships with Samsung and Flipkart. The former will bundle some of its phones with a 4G SIM card and the latter is retailing select handsets with a free card and a double data offer.