Airtel seeks approval for voice services testing on 4G / LTE networks on 2300 MHz band

Telecom Lead India: Mobile service provider Bharti Airtel has sought Government’s approval for testing voice services on its 4G / LTE networks.

Its rival Reliance Industries-owned Infotel Broadband is set to get DoT’s approval for testing voice services on LTE platform, Economic Times reported.

Airtel has the advantage of pan-India 2G and 3G networks while offering services on its 4G network. We are in the process of formulating test plans for voice over 4G as per the 3GPP standard. Airtel has the flexibility and choice of implementing either or both — 2G/3G and VoLTE — depending on the device penetration in India, going forward.

Analysys Mason recently predicted that in 2013 LTE will become a commercial reality in many more countries, but will have limited economic impact in the next 12 months. Some European countries and emerging markets in Latin America are set to launch the network, as well as countries in South-East Asia via the Asia–Pacific band plan. Developed markets such as South Korea will also start to deploy LTE-A and take advantage of features such as carrier aggregation to craft larger channels for higher-speed services.

However, the immediate economic impact of LTE will be limited in countries where it has been priced as a premium product and the economy remains sluggish (e.g. Italy and Spain). The industry will also realize that consumers are unwilling to pay a premium for LTE mobile broadband, and that this service will not compete with next-generation fixed access on anything other than a complementary basis. The effect will be to push down the price of 3G/HSPA mobile broadband services.

Bharti Airtel launched 4G in Kolkata, Bangalore and Pune. But 4G uptake is growing slowly due to high prices and lack of availability of 4G smartphones. 4G with voice is expected to generate more users in India.

Recently, DoT committee recommended that RIL be allowed to test 10,000 connections for 4G voice services.

Airtel’s move to seek permission to test voice calls indicates that 4G spectrum holders want to combine this facility with high speed data services on this platform.

Existing regulations don’t allow 4G spectrum winners to offer voice services. Both Airtel and Infotel are pinning their hopes on the new telecom policy, which is slated to come into effect from 2013, and states that companies can offer all forms of communication services after migrating to a unified licence.

Recently, Videocon, after winning 6 telecom circles in the recently concluded spectrum auction, said it would launch 4G in 2013.

Economics Times reports that voice services are not available in the 2300 MHz band, the frequency on which 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) services will be offered in India. But voice facilities are available on other 4G bands like the 700 MHz that are used in the US and Europe.

[email protected]