Telecom service provider Bharti Airtel is planning to launch its 4G services in Delhi by September, expanding its reach in the North. The company, which is currently the only provider of 4G in India, is likely to face heat from Reliance Communications, which is rumored to be gearing up for a nationwide roll out by 2014. (source)
Airtel is the first and only telecom major (as of now) to have introduced 4G LTE (long term evolution), a high speed wireless broadband service, in India. Last April, the service was rolled out in Kolkata after which it got expanded to Bangalore, Pune and Chandigarh.
The tariffs which were on the higher side initially were cut down by 30% a month ago, comparable to that of 3G plans. Obviously, the plan is to boost up data usage and increase adoption.
Chinese Telco Huawei will build and operate the network for Delhi region. Earlier it had deployed TD LTE (Time-Division Long-Term Evolution) 4G network for Airtel in Bangalore and Kolkata. In October 2012, Huawei in partnership with Airtel launched first 4th Generation LTE phones in India, Ascend P1 LTE.
Airtel had bagged Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) in 2010, a spectrum for high speed broadband service, for Rs 3,314.36 crore in Kolkata, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka regions. Last year, it secured entry in Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala circles by acquiring a 49% stake in US telecom Qualcomm’s Indian 4G venture. Recently, the stake was increased by 2%, Airtel now owns a controlling stake in the company.
Next in the line to launch the high speed broadband service will be Reliance Jio Infocom. In Rs 12,847.71 crore it has won the BWA spectrum slot of 20 MHz for pan-India.
As per the latest data Airtel’s 3G customers grew by 136% YOY to 6.4 million in March 2013. It has 43 million data customers in total which includes 2G and 4G customers.
Airtel 4G Review
While telcos continue to invest in 3G services, their seriousness to get on 4G is still a bit ambiguous. We’ve had some bad experience using Airtel’s 4G earlier. The service went kaput in 7 days, we faced issues with customer support, billing and weren’t too excited about the speed it delivered. In short, we went through hell for being early adopters (read our review of Airtel 4G).