India's largest telecom firm Bharti Airtel has launched India's first 4G service in Kolkata. The service will be based on TD-LTE, making India one of the first countries in the world to commercially deploy 4G. For starters, the service will bring in speeds upto 40 mbps on the move.
If you are also thinking why Kolkata, it has to do primarily with the fact that Airtel has licenses for a certain set of circles and not a pan India license. If you are still wonder why Kolkata (and not Bangalore where Airtel has the license), it has to do with history. Kolkata was also the place from where the country's first mobile call was made from Airtel way back in August 1995.
For a quick recap, in 2010, Airtel had successfully bid for BWA license spectrum in Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra (excluding Mumbai) circles. Airtel will roll out the service in Bangalore in the next 30 days, followed by Pune Chandigarh and Maharashtra.
But, the thing to remember is the service can be enjoyed only by those on-the-go who have 4G compatible handsets or Tablets which are pretty much absent in India as of now but coming soon (if you have already grabbed the new ipad you can try and use it on the new Airtel service). This explains why the Airtel microsite talks about only dongles that can be plugged to PCs and Tablets besides wireless modem as devices through which it will offer the service.
The services are being launched in both prepaid and postpaid formats and have three tariff plans to begin with monthly rental of Rs 999 (upto 6 GB free download), Rs 1,399 (upto 9 GB) and Rs 1,999 (upto 18 GB). Post the free usage plan, the service speed also shrinks down to 128kbps.
The launch is expected to trigger a new phase of opportunities for services which require high speed Internet but faced challenges in the current scenario as 3G services proved to be less than flattering for most consumers.
Besides rich content, 4G services will allow access to HD video streaming, multiple chatting, instant uploading of photos and much more. It will also help in enhancing the reach of e-governance, e-health and e-education services. In particular one can possibly expect live streaming of content, multi player games etc with the new service.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director, Bharti Airtel said, "High speed wireless broadband has the potential to transform India, provide a robust platform for building the country's digital economy and truly empower people. India will see massive growth in consumption of data and content over mobile devices and proliferation of mobile commerce."
We can't agree more (only if we see trouble free experience in 4G). But with everyone waiting for Reliance Industries which has a pan India license for 4G, this could just be the beginning for a big price war and cheap but superfast Internet on the go for consumers.