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India's 5G plan stirs debt-laden telecom firms

Incumbents raise funds while Jio signals readiness

Many observers expect 5G services to be widely available in the country only in the early 2020s, with Deloitte estimating total investment required at $70 billion.    © Reuters

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- As fifth-generation internet services inch closer to reality, India's indebted telecommunication companies are stepping up fund-raising efforts to take on Reliance Jio Infocomm, which has the advantage of cash and a later-generation network across the country.

Bharti Airtel, the country's second-largest service provider by subscriber numbers, said late last week its board has approved a plan to raise up to $4.5 billion through a rights and bonds issue. The company is also looking to sell a stake in its tower business and list its African unit.

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