We are still nascent with the availability and usage of 3G networks and telecom operators are now gunning on 4G LTE services. India’s top telecom operator Bharti Airtel has revealed its plans to offer India’s first high-speed 4G LTE services to smartphones in Bangalore telecom circle. And this is happening shortly within three weeks (precisely last week of December 2013) and off-course you will need a mobile device with TD-LTE support in band 40 through which Airtel currently offering its 4G LTE service.
— Airtel India (@airtelindia) December 5, 2013
Currently Airtel offers 4G LTE network for high-speed data services in four telecom circles – Kolkata, Chandigarh, Pune and Bangalore. Bharti Airtel has BWA license spectrum to operate 4G LTE services in Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra (excluding Mumbai) circles. In addition Airtel’s recent acquisition of 100 percent stakes in Qualcomm AP’s India entities allow them to operate 4G services in Delhi, Mumbai,Haryana and Kerala.
Due to various regulatory and technical issues voice over 4G LTE is restricted, so Airtel will be using Circuit Switched FallBack (CSFB) technology for its 4G LTE service on mobile devices. Under this technology users will be on 4G LTE network during data usage section and when they receive or make a call the network will automatically switched to 3G or 2G depending on what’s available. It has already completed the trials of CSFB technology in the cities of Pune, Kolkata and Bangalore in late February 2013.
Earlier Airtel has selected Nokia Siemens Networks to deploy its Circuit Switched FallBack (CSFB) voice solution in the operator’s live TD-LTE network in the city. Through this the Airtel network can automatically transfer customers to GSM (2G and 3G) platform to make and receive voice calls and access voice mails while retaining the experience of ultra-fast data services on 4G smartphones.
Coming to the availability of mobile devices capable of supporting the 4G LTE network under band 40 along with CSFB technology to automatically switch networks are very few in India. Recently launched Huawei Ascend P1 LTE smartphone and may be Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C (that supports the band 40 in TD-LTE) are the only mobile devices that can utilize this service. In addition Indian mobile vendors Micromax and Xolo are reportedly testing their 4G LTE smartphone and planning to release them in the coming months.
With Reliance Jio Infocomm massive investment in pan-India 4G LTE network and recent approval from TRAI on offering voice over 4G network, Airtel need to move aggressively to capture the market as an early entrant.