Airtel extends 4G for Smartphones to three more cities


India’s largest telco Airtel has extended its 4G LTE service for smartphones to Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula. after launching it in Bangalore earlier this February.

Airtel mentions that this service is limited to iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C users since these two phones support the TD-LTE 2300 MHz band on which Airtel has currently deployed its 4G service. However, it does note that Airtel 4G service can also be used on other devices like Xolo LT 900 and LG G2 which supports this band. Hence, its not clear whether Airtel has an exclusive tie-up with Apple for this 4G LTE service.

The service will be available for both pre-paid and postpaid customers. New customers can pick up a 4G SIM and choose a 3G data plan to get started while existing customers can use this service at the same price of their existing 3G plans, although they will have to change their existing SIM to a 4G SIM.

Remember that Airtel is also looking to use the 1800MHz spectrum it acquired in the February 2014 2G auctions, to roll out high speed 4G networks using FD-LTE technology in the 1800 MHz band for a pan-India 4G rollout. This will essentially enable users on other handsets to also make use of Airtel’s 4G service, although there is currently no information on when Airtel plans to roll out this service in India.

Airtel is currently the only telco which offers 4G services in India. It had claimed to have 0.1 million 4G subscribers as of December 31, 2013.

Aircel gets conditional approval from DoT for 4G rollout

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Meanwhile, Aircel has received conditional approval from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to roll out its 4G services in the Tamil Nadu circle, reports Telecom Tiger.

It says that Aircel had sought DoT’s permission in January to launch the service after completing trials in the circle, however there is no word on when the telco plans to commercially launch its 4G services in India. Aircel had earlier appointed ZTE corporation for pan-India deployment of its 4G LTE network, starting with Chennai.

It has BWA/4G spectrum in eight circles – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, North-East, and Jammu & Kashmir and had reportedly postponed its 4G rollout to 2014 in August last year.

Videocon to launch 4G by December 2014

Videocon is planning to launch its 4G services by December 2014 in the country, Videocon Telecom CEO Arvind Bali has told ET Telecom. He mentioned that they will also be offering various 4G related services like Live IPTV among others.

It’s worth noting that Videocon hadn’t secured any spectrum during the Broadband Wireless Access spectrum auctions. However, the company had secured 24 blocks of spectrum across six circles in the November 2013 2G spectrum auctions.

The company had earlier mentioned that it was looking to launch 4G services using the FDD LTE technology and plans to offer these services in eight Indian states including Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, UP (East & West), Bihar and Jharkhand.

That being said, it’s worth reminding all 4G players including Reliance Jio that there is just about an year before the BWA rollout obligations kicks in, as per which, all BWA licensees have to provide street level coverage in at least 90% of the metro service areas and at least 50% of the rural short distance changing areas (SDCAs) by mid-2015 (five years of the effective date). BWA licenses of companies that fail to meet these requirements will be withdrawn by the government.