Airtel networks VP Puneet Garg talks about 4G / LTE opportunities in rural India

Telecom Lead India: Bharti Airtel’s VP – Networks Puneet Garg on Friday said LTE would bring tremendous opportunities for growing rural internet, broadband, smartphone and urban internet penetration.

Speaking at an event on LTE in Delhi on Friday, the Bharti Airtel networks head said the Indian opportunity is the most prominent because 50 percent of the population is below 26 years and broadband users could exceed 400 million by 2017 and mobile data is projected to grow considerably.

“LTE meets coverage and capacity challenges quickly. However, there are technological challenges,” said Garg.

Airtel is the first telecom operator in India to launch 4G / LTE on TD-LTE platform.

Airtel last week said its data continues to lead the mobile segment growth in India, through deeper penetration and consumption.

According to Airtel’s fourth quarter financial results, data consumption rose 20 percent and reached 24 billion MBs. Data contributed around 6.5 percent of the total mobile revenues (against 5.7 percent in Q3 FY 2013).

Airtel had 43.5 million Data (mobile internet) customers, of which 6.4 million used 3G data services. Data ARPU reached Rs 55, helped by average data download of 187 MBs per user per month (an increase of  26 MB per user over previous quarter), and blended data realization rate being stable at 29.27 paisa per MB.

Speaking at the LTE event, Aircel technology solutions head Robert Sewell shared a case study on LTE set up in Australia in order to emphasize that LTE can be deployed cost effectively.

Arvind Bali, CEO of Videocon Mobile Services, which will launch 4G, says LTE in reality is a life time experience for consumers.

Rajan S. Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), urged the telecom minister Kapil Sibal to release more spectrum for 4G services.

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