06/08/2015 5:16 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Bharti Airtel Races To Expand 4G Coverage Across India Ahead Of Reliance's Entry

Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pedestrian walk past a Bharti Airtel Ltd. store in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. The government auction of telecom wireless spectrum starting March 4 is expected to raise as much as $15.6 billion from service providers including those controlled by billionaires Kumar Mangalam Birla, Sunil Mittal and Anil Ambani, according to ICRA Ltd. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images

NEW DELHI — India's top mobile operator Bharti Airtel Ltd. said on Thursday it launched fourth-generation (4G) mobile technology in 296 towns, becoming the first company to offer commercial high-speed data services in the country.

Bharti Airtel has ramped up its 4G push ahead of the anticipated entry of cash-rich Reliance Industries Ltd., which plans to start pan-India 4G services in December.

A rising proliferation of cheap smartphones has boosted demand for mobile data as more and more Indians demand faster downloads and use their handsets to access the Internet.

The number of mobile web users in India is expected to grow by around 28 percent annually between 2013 and 2017 and reach 314 million by the end of 2017, according to a report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and KPMG.

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