Aircel to put 4G launch plans on hold this year



Telecom Lead India: Aircel is planning to put on hold its plans to launch 4G services on TD LTE network in India this year.

Top telecom equipment vendors confirmed that the operator’s network is not yet ready to launch 4G in the country during the current festival season.

Aircel official spokesperson declined to comment on the 4G launch plans.

Indications are that Aircel will not launch 4G during the current fiscal as well. Recent change of guard at the top, regulatory uncertainties due to spectrum, India’s probe involving its parent company Maxis, etc. affected Aircel.

With this, Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Airtel will be the only telecom operator in India to launch TD LTE services in 3 circles in the country after bagging the BWA spectrum in 2010. Recently, Airtel CEO Sanjay Kapoor said 4G ARPU is more than Rs 1000 (around $20) against voice ARPU of around Rs 120.

Though industry analysts predicted that TD-LTE subscribers are expected to reach 5 million by 2013, Reliance Industries is also yet to announce its plans on 4G. Reliance Industries also did not participate in the spectrum auction.

Delay in 4G launches is annoying the telecom ministry. Recently, telecom minister Kapil Sibal said the government is discussing this matter very seriously.

Aircel insiders said the company will not launch the advanced mobile broadband services in the next 2-3 months as the company is not convinced about a strong business case. Aircel has BWA spectrum in 8 circles including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, North-East and Jammu & Kashmir.

According to a recent telecom news report in, Aircel was expected to start rolling out 4G services from Chennai and other cities of Tamil Nadu. “Our focus is on creating a big data business. We’ll award contracts for 4G equipment soon and launch between October and December. We are putting in $500 million. We’ll be an integrated provider of 4G services,” said Sandip Das, CEO of Maxis.

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