Bharti Airtel to invest $310m to improve customer service

James Pearce
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Indian operator has also launched trials of VoLTE services, according to reports

Bharti Airtel has unveiled plans to splash 20 billion rupees ($310 million) on improving its services over the next three years in an attempt to improve its customer experience.

The so-called “Project Next” will see India’s biggest mobile provider revamp the 2,500 stores in its retail portfolio, launch mobile handset protection schemes, and boost postpaid services, according to Gopal Vittal, CEO for India and South Asia.

Airtel has faced severe pressure within the Indian market, caused in part by the launch of Reliance Jio last year. This pressure could be set to grow, with second and third placed mobile operators Vodafone and Idea Cellular set to merge operations.

Vittal told reporters in India that Airtel will launch several digital innovations to “step change the simplicity and interactivity” of its customer experience.

It has also began conducting trials ahead of the deployment of its voice over LTE offering in five cities. Vittal said the company will be “able to take VoLTE” everywhere in the country later this year.

VoLTE could help it compete with Jio, the only other operator in India currently offering the service, as it will allow Airtel to offer premium, HD voice calling.

The announcement came as speculation about a mega merger between Airtel and Tata Sons’ telecoms units, which include Tata Communications and Tata Teleservices, gained momentum.

Despite reports suggesting talks have taken place between the two Indian firms, neither have confirmed it.