India's biggest telecom operator Bharti Airtel is set to spend Rs 60,000 crore ($8.98 billion) to upgrade its mobile voice and data network over the next three years in the face of the impending launch of Reliance Jio which will intensify the competition in the telecom space.
A major chunk of the investment will go towards setting up infrastructure as the operator has already purchased the required air waves, said Gopal Vittal, Bharti Airtel's chief executive for India and South Asia.
The investment includes Rs 14,692 crore capital expenditure outlined by the company for the current fiscal year, Reuters reported.
The launch of fourth-generation (4G) services by Reliance Jio Infocomm, Mukesh Ambani's company is expected to infuse more competition among the telecom players, with "competitive pricing" to gain customers at a faster pace, which could pressurise the profit margins of other players like Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India.
Last month, Sunil Mittal, chairman of India's biggest telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd, had said that the launch of 4G services by Reliance Jio would "shake up" the domestic telecom sector.
"Whatever Reliance does, it does on a scale that is always big and impactful," Mittal had said.
Smaller operators will be compelled to consolidate with the entry of Reliance Jio, said Mittal.
Mittal said that Airtel is increasing its investment and looking to buy spectrum from other operators.
Bharti Airtel will spend $3.5 billion in the current fiscal year, nearly $750 million more than it invests usually, to boost its 4G plans, Mittal said.