India to see more of 4G this year

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 23, 2013

4g broadband

After the slow yet optimistic evolution of 3G, mobile operators and enterprises are looking at the next possible option for speedy and affordable services – the fourth generation or 4G technologies. Telecom minister Kapil Sibal recently announced that it will auction spectrum in 700 Mhz band which is the preferred and cost-effective spectrum for 4G. The 700 MHz band that ranges from 698 Mhz to 806 Mhz is used for offering high speed internet services as required by businesses and organizations.

LTE is regarded as the technology for providing superior last mile connectivity. Frost & Sullivan estimates LTE revenues in India to reach $11.88 billion in 2017 that is projected to grow at a phenomenal compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 220.5 percent over the period 2011-2017.

“4G is expected to herald a new age of productivity for remote business users. From steaming corporate videos and video chat in high definition (HD) as well as running presentations on tablets and smartphone while on the go – the fourth generation technology will give another new dimension to mobility just like its predecessor 3G that had changed the way we work,” said telecom analyst Ganesh Tamboli. At the same time, he believes that newer apps will start to emerge in the market urging businesses to work remotely and in exciting ways.

“For businesses gearing up to use 4G this year, it means changes to their IT and security infrastructure especially as many companies are moving their data to the cloud. Whether it’s about getting email on a smartphone or running a presentation on a tablet PC, the biggest concern for a remote user remains the speed of the data that has been transferred to and from their device. Patchy coverage is another issue that needs to be addressed,” said Vishal Anand Gupta, Jt. Project Director HIMS & Manager - Systems, CMRI.

Currently, Bharti Airtel is the only 4G operator in the country offering services in Kolkata, Pune and Bangalore. In the next few months, Reliance Industries will launch 4G services in Delhi and Mumbai region where consumers will be able to access mobile broadband at a speed of up to 100 Mbps. Videocon, Infotel and Aircel are set to debut their 4G services in India in the latter half of this year to accommodate the surge in data traffic.

Frost & Sullivan report notes that mobile operators today are burdened with immediate need to upgrade their network infrastructure to be able to offer high-speed data services to the consumers. However, the lack of spectrum harmonization is deterring its adoption.

Tamboli agrees that in India concerns remain on spectrum usage, form factor and configuration used, besides device availability and tariff plans. Moreover, the spectrum and policy issues still remain unclear as there has to be a concrete 4G strategy. For example, under its license conditions, Reliance will not be able to over voice services over its 4G network. Once fully operational, 4G technologies can provide the much needed thrust in areas of wireless services, including utilities and healthcare that have not yet been fully explored.