Airtel says the service will provide high-speed internet to areas of the country without access to fibre connectivity 

This week, Bharti Airtel, one of India’s largest telcos has launched a 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) service called ‘Airtel Xstream AirFiber’. 

The FWA offering is delivered to customers as a plug-and-play solution with built-in Wi-Fi 6 technology. It will allow users to connect up to 64 devices simultaneously with initial plans offering speeds of up to 100 Mbps. 

In its press release, Airtel noted that fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology currently only reaches 34 million households in India out of a possible 303 million, leaving millions of people unable to access high speed internet at home or at work. As such, this FWA solution can offer a viable alternative in areas yet to receive the fibre upgrade. 

“India has seen the rapid growth of home broadband but there still remain areas with no access to hi-speed internet at home due to the physical challenges of laying fiber in a country the size of India,” said Consumer Business Director Shashwat Sharma. “While fiber to the home will always define the best experience of Wi-Fi at home, AirFiber helps bridge the experience gap for everyone else.”   

The service also notably eliminates the need for the installation of costly wired fibre connections, offering additional flexibility and convenience to consumers. 

Airtel will roll out the service across the country in phases, with Airtel 5G users in Delhi and Mumbai being the first to gain access. New locations will be added as the company’s 5G network rollout itself progresses. 

However, Managing Director Gopal Vittal noted that the economics of the FWA devices remains challenging, as they are twice the price of the home-broadband router. 

The newly launches service will also drive-up domestic manufacturing, as the firm plans to produce the units in India as part of the government’s “Make in India” initiative, which was launched in 2014 and designed to make India a global manufacturing hub. 

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