Telecom operator Bharti Airtel is looking to roll out 5G services in a month and cover key metro cities in the country by December 2022.

In a letter to customers, Airtel chief executive officer Gopal Vittal says he expects the company's 5G services to cover all of urban India by the end of 2023.

"We expect to launch our 5G services within a month. By December, we should have coverage in key metros. After that we will expand rapidly to cover the entire country. We expect to cover all of urban India by the end of 2023," says Vittal.

On network speed, Vittal says Airtel 5G will deliver dramatically higher speeds compared to a 4G network. "It could be anywhere between 20 to 30 times the speed you get today. This will allow you to boot up an application or download a heavy file in no time," he adds.

This comes days after Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani said that Jio will launch 5G in India's major cities by Diwali 2022. The oil-to-telecom conglomerate plans to roll-out its 5G service across the country by December 2023.

Airtel's 5G service will facilitate network slicing for special requirements, says Vittal. "If you are a gamer and want a flawless experience, we will be able to slice the network for you. Or if you are working from home and want a consistent experience, we will deliver it for you," Vittal wrote in the letter.

"We have chosen a specific 5G technology that has the widest eco-system in the world. This means that all 5G smartphones in India will work on the Airtel network without any glitch," says Vittal, adding that Airtel SIM is already 5G enabled.

Meanwhile, rival Jio has committed an investment of ₹2 lakh crore to build a pan-India 5G network.

At Reliance Industries' 45th annual general meeting (AGM) last month, Ambani had said that Jio will deploy the latest version of 5G, called Stand-Alone 5G, which has zero dependency on its 4G network. "With Jio 5G, we will connect every-one, every-place and every-thing with the highest quality and most affordable data. In addition to meeting India's needs, we are confident of offering digital solutions to global markets," he had said.

Reliance Jio also competes with Airtel in fixed line broadband services. "JioFiber is now the number one FTTX service provider in India, with over 7 million connected premises – a feat achieved in less than two years despite Covid-19 lockdowns," Ambani had said.

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