India gets 4G with Airtel launching services

The immediate opportunity for Airtel is a data market mainly addressed by slow, fixed connections

India got its first 4G service with the country's largest mobile services provider Bharti Airtel launching services Tuesday based on the TD-LTE technology in the north-eastern city of Kolkata.

An immediate opportunity for Airtel is to push 4G (fourth-generation) data services in a market that is currently addressed mainly by slower, fixed line broadband connections that have limited reach, said Kamlesh Bhatia, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Airtel bid about 33 billion rupees (US$634 million) in a government auction in 2010 for the right to offer broadband wireless access (BWA) in four of India's 22 service areas. Starting with Kolkata, the company plans to offer 4G services in the other three service areas including Bangalore shortly.

Besides offering rich content, Airtel plans to give customers fast access to high-definition (HD) video streaming, multiple chatting, and instant uploading of photos, and also to bridge the country's digital divide.

The company will first have to build an ecosystem of applications, content and devices that can help customers take advantage of the 4G service, Bhatia said.

Airtel already offers a 3G mobile service, which could be affected by the new 4G service. Because of the lower fees that it paid for the BWA licenses and spectrum, and the overall spectral efficiency of TD-LTE, costs of its 4G service are likely to be competitive compared to its 3G service, Bhatia said.

Once other operators including Reliance Communications get into the market, there could be a temptation to cut prices too aggressively, as happened in the mobile voice communications market, according to Bhatia. "Hopefully they learned their lesson in the voice tariff wars," he said.

India had 13.5 million broadband subscribers at the end of February, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The number of mobile subscribers were far higher at 911 million.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?