4G LTE operators getting ready for tough competition in Indian telecom market

Telecom Lead India: Indian 4G LTE market is readying for cut
throat competition with Bharti Airtel, the market leader in wireless segment,
announcing its plans to launch the high speed broadband in Kolkata on March 20.

Though Bharti Airtel is poised to gain from the first mover
advantage, the state-run MTNL is also aiming for launching the 4G service in
Mumbai and Delhi this year. Reliance Industries will be looking at a national
launch. The company is in the process of finalizing its roll out plans.

All these mobile operators are not divulging pricing
strategies as they have already failed to impress their 3G customers.

Chinese gear maker ZTE is supplying the 4G equipment and
managing operations in Kolkata for Airtel.

The initial launch will be at Kolkata and later it
would be launched in three more circles including Maharashtra, Karnataka and

On the launch of 4G service, Aditya Kaul, practice director,
mobile networks of ABI Research said that high priced devices will be the main
challenge for the operators in India, as consumers in India have always been
reluctant to pay for high-speed broadband.

He added that initially high-end subscribers including corporate
and business users will use the 4G service but with reasonable cost tablets and
smartphones it should become mass-market by 2014.

According to media reports, 4G service has already been
kicked in India by Augere Wireless, as the company claimed that it has been
offering high-speed data through dongles (data cards) since last month. Augere
is offering broadband services under the ZOOSH brand to residential and
business customers in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

After acquiring BWA spectrum for Rs 12,847 crore, Reliance
Infotel has trialed services from Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson and Huawei last
year. However, it remains to be seen if Airtel’s rollout will hasten Reliance’s
own 4G launch in India.

Qualcomm, Tikona and Aircel have also won BWA spectrum.

Bharti Airtel had paid Rs 3,314.36 crore for getting fourth
generation spectrum in four circles – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and
Kolkata – in a government auction held in 2010.

At the Mobile World Congress, Bharti
Airtel announced it has appointed Nokia Siemens Networks to manage its TD-LTE
network in Maharashtra.

The teleco has selected Huawei for the Karntaka region and
Sweden’s Ericsson for Punjab. Bharti Airtel is deploying its TD-LTE network in
the 2.3 GHz frequency band allocated by the Indian government for broadband
wireless access technologies.


India is set to have more than 17 million mobile
broadband customers using LTE networks by the end of 2016 following
the launch of BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) services, according to a report
from Pyramid Research.


The research also forecasts that of those 17 million-plus
LTE users, more than 7 million will be customers of Reliance Industries
(RIL), the only BWA license-holder to have pan-India spectrum.


The report predicts that despite a slow start, the
Asia/Pacific (including China, India, Japan and Korea) will have more LTE
service users (whether connected to TDD or FDD networks) by the end of 2014
than any other region in the world, and that by the end of 2016 it will account
for almost 240 million LTE service users, or 40 percent of the world’s total.


According to another research by Renub Research, Asia
Pacific 4G service revenue will be over $ 1 billion in 2013. 

Danish Khan