Airtel advanced investments to boost network capacity amid data surge: Gopal Vittal

Kolkata: Bharti Airtel chief executive Gopal Vittal said the telco has advanced investments and is boosting network capacity to tackle the upsurge in data consumption and ensure uninterrupted mobile broadband connectivity to its retail and enterprise customers even as corporate India staff continues to work from home amid the nationwide Covid-19 lockdowns.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco, he said, has also activated alternate channels such as bank ATMs, pharmacies and grocery stores to help customers who aren’t online to recharge on time. Towards this, Airtel has parterned with HDFC, ICICI, Apollo and Big Bazaar.

“We are now in Day 8 of the 21-day national lockdown…this is a situation none of us have confronted before…our network operating centers and data centers continue to be operational to ensure smooth functioning of the network, and our field staff continue to be on the road to ensure speedy provisioning of new connections and timely fixing of faults,” Vittal said in a letter to Airtel customers Thursday.

Even in this “incredibly difficult time,” he said, the onus is on the company to ensure customers stay connected with their loved ones and can work effectively from home.

At a time when lockdowns and social distancing is the new normal, Vittal encouraged Airtel customers to use the digital medium to recharge and even help those without access to digital channels.

“You can help, do your bit, and recharge for those around you, who don’t have access to a digital channel….you can recharge at or through the Airtel Thanks app,” he said in his second letter to customers in just over a week.

Vittal has also urged Airtel customers to tap into the digital medium to raise queries/concerns as the company’s call-centers are running at reduced capacity. The company, he said, has also beefed up its IVR (interactive voice response system), that can now address 98% of customer concerns. But as a back-up, if the IVR can’t resolve issues, it has enabled a functionality that allows a customer to create a ticket on the IVR itself. He also assured customers that the company would address matters on priority once an issue is raised digitally.

Earlier this week, Airtel extended the pre-paid pack validity for its low-ARPU customers, and gave a talktime credit of Rs 10 to ensure continuous mobile connectively during the lockdown. It has also extended the talktime of over 80 million underprivileged customers till April 17.

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