4G Network Deployment, Multimedia Value-Added Services and Spectrum Auctions In India
As we begin 2014, India’s 4G operators are still in the network deployment phase. Bharti Airtel continues to rollout 4G networks across the country, with prepaid and postpaid LTE services already available in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula in Punjab and Haryana, followed by Kolkata, Bengaluru and Pune. Airtel is expanding these 4G circles and is reported to be in talks with ZTE rolling out LTE networks in Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala circles Airtel acquired from Qualcomm.
After completing successful trials earlier last year, Airtel selected NSN to deploy a Circuit Switched FallBack (CSFB) voice solution on its live TD-LTE network in Pune. With CSFB, the 4G LTE network can transfer customers to its existing GSM platform to make and receive voice calls and access voice mails while retaining the experience of fast data services on 4G smartphones. Bangalore is reported to be the next city to receive CSFB technology for voice calls through the GSM network for its 4G customers. Bharti Airtel has also teamed up with Huawei for 4G devices in India, with Huawei’s Ascend P1 LTE being exclusively offered for its 4G LTE network. Bharti Airtel has also been testing other devices from Samsung, ZTE, and Indian manufacturers such as Micromax.
Indian telecom service provider Aircel acquired broadband wireless access (BWA) licenses for eight telecom circles back in 2010, and recently selected ZTE to deploy its 4G LTE networks in India. Under the first deployment phase, ZTE will deploy 4G LTE network for Aircel in Chennai, Rest of Tamil Nadu (RoTN) circle and few other business critical circles.
Reliance JIO Infocomm (RJIL) is the third BWA license holder preparing to launch its long awaited 4G LTE service data services in 2014. A preview of the Reliance Jio High Speed Broadband revealed average speed of 16 Mbps for downloads and 9 Mbps for uploads over the 4G TD-LTE network. Reliance Jio is developing several multimedia products and Value Added Services to offer on its 4G network. Jio PLAY LIVE TV (powered by Network 18) is reported to offer a total of 160 channels including 16 HD channels on the iPhone 5S. With this LIVE TV service users can also catch-up on TV programs with 7 days of stored content for each channel. Reliance Jio is reported to be testing 3D TV and Ultra HD Video on its 4G network which will be available with commercial launch of service.
Reliance Jio is also planning to offer Voice and Video calls as well as a Video on Demand (VoD) service with a library of more than 400 movies over its 4G networks. Other consumer friendly contact manager and photo transfer apps will be offered on the cloud-based Reliance ‘JIO Drive‘ Sync and Storage platform, similar to Google Drive. Reliance Jio is also reportedly developing live video surveillance and on-line Health Support apps that are being tested on its high speed broadband network in Mumbai. The company is also working on WiFi – MiFi devices so any customer can experience benefit of high speed wireless connectivity for Wi-Fi enabled smart phones and tablets over a blend of LTE and Wi-Fi networks. Although there is no official word on where and when these services will become commercially available, we believe Reliance Jio will be announcing the launch of its 4G Broadband products and services in India with great fanfare during the first half of 2014.
In the meantime, the Indian Government is auctioning 385 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz range and 46 MHz in the 900 MHz band. Eight mobile operators are bidding including Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Uninor, Tata Teleservices and Vodafone India. Reliance Jio has unexpectedly opted to compete in both auctions, as winning spectrum in the 1800 MHz band would enable the new entrant to offer voice services and the 900 MHz spectrum would improve coverage for its 4G Internet service. The Indian Government set $1.8 billion as the initial revenue target for this spectrum auction, but total bids reached $8.46 billion at the end of day four as bidding for spectrum in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai has been fierce in early rounds. The 1800MHz band has already received total bids worth $4.9 billion, while the 900MHz part of the spectrum has drawn $3.5 billion.
The Wireless 20/20 WiROI™ 4G LTE Business Case Tool is designed to help Indian operators analyze the impact of 4G LTE technology on their existing business. The WiROI™ Tool allows operators to develop their 4G network business cases, and address the most challenging modeling problems associated with Small Cell deployments, Wi-Fi Offload and 4G networks to serve venues such as stadiums, airports and train stations.
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