While 3G gradually expands its coverage in India, the latest fourth-generation mobile services (4G) has seen a rapid growth since its launch in April this year. Bharti Airtel has so far added 3,180 TD-LTE subscribers through its 4G network in Kolkata and Bangalore, while state-run BSNL has provided 50,077 connections through 4G/WiMAX. The revelation was made by communications and information technology Milind Deora.
Bharti Airtel launched 4G (TD-LTE) services in Kolkata and Bangalore in May and April this year respectively. The operator has BWA licences in four circles Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra - and 3G licenses in 13 circles in India. The telco has also purchased Qualcomm's BWA licence – move that is likely to help Airtel consolidate its position in 4G segment even before other operators launch their services. The Qualcomm deal will help Airtel expand its coverage of 4G and 3G along with own networks to 18 circles.
It's notable that the 3,180 TD-LTE subscriber mark is beyond expectations. According to a recent estimate, number of TD-LTE users is likely to reach 5 million by 2013. The growth will be driven by the new players such as Reliance Industries and Tikona launching their services. The growth for TD-LTE market also depends on the OEMs such as Nokia, Samsung and Apple, which are expected to launch LTE-enabled smartphones in the near future.
"Indian telecom operators should offer cost effective 4G services in order to increase the subscriber base. Currently, 4G dongles are costly. If they need to offer cost effective services, 4G penetration should enhance across the world so that equipment prices will come down. 4G prices are also reflecting the BWA spectrum price in India,” analyst Baburajan K at TelecomLead is quoted as saying.
Baburajan also points out the recent slashing of 3G tariffs helped boost adoption of 3G in the country. “If India need to increase mobile broadband penetration companies like Reliance industries-owned Infotel Broadband should start 4G services and Airtel should launch 4G in more circles,'' adds Baburajan.
Source: Times of India