Telecom operator Bharti Airtel has launched 4G services in 296 towns in India. Airtel had started testing 4G services in 2012 in Kolkata and now offers data packs for customers starting from Rs 25.
The company has also tied up with ecommerce player Flipkart to offer handsets with Airtel 4G SIMs. Customers can choose from a range of 4G devices from brands like Samsung, Xiaomi, Motorola, Lenovo, Asus and Huawei. Airtel has also tied up with Samsung, who will facilitate SIM swaps. Samsung will also offer Airtel 4G data benefits on its select 4G devices.
In addition, Airtel also launched a new movie streaming service called Wynk Movies which offers customers a curated library of thousands of movies and popular videos. It also introduced a new range of ‘Infinity Plans’ starting Rs 999. These plans offer unlimited voice calls along with data benefits and access to Wynk Movies and Wynk Music apps.
In February, Wynk music claimed to have crossed five million downloads since its launch in September. Wynk features full track audio streaming, unlimited cache downloads, Mp3 purchase and caller ring back tone. The latest app version also features support for Google Chromecast to be streamed on televisions. Wynk’s free version allows users to stream music online and tune into internet radio, but the premium version, Wynk Plus, allows users to download unlimited music and play it offline. Wynk Plus is available at Rs 99 per month on Android and Rs 60 on iOS platforms. There’s also a package for Airtel’s subscribers called Wynk Freedom.
Airtel had claimed to have 0.1 M 4G subscribers in India for the quarter ended December 31, 2013.
Airtel acquired 111.6 MHz spectrum during the March spectrum auction: 60.20 MHz in the 900 MHz band, 15.40 MHz in the 1800 MHz band and 35 MHz in the 2100 MHz band. At the time, the telco had said that it would be able to offer pan India 4G services using a combination of FD-LTE technology in the 1800 MHz band and TD-LTE roll out in the 2300 MHz band.
Reliance Jio and Idea’s 4G plans
Airtel’s rival Reliance Jio Infocomm claims that it is now present in all 29 states in India and has a direct physical presence in nearly 18,000 cities and towns. Reliance Jio will be rolling out its complete commercial operations by December this year, Mukesh Ambani, RIL chairman, said in his speech to investors in the company’s annual general meeting. Reliance added that its distribution network will include 0.5 million connectivity outlets and 1 million additional recharge outlets at launch.
Idea also has advanced its 4G launch plans by one year to 2016 as it felt the prices of equipment and smartphones which can support the technology have dropped. “Our big worry when we started to valuate launch of LTE in 2014 was that then the equipment prices were far in excess to the equipment prices that were available on 3G. With almost 170 operators coming on board with the technology, the equipment prices are now tending towards to 3G prices. So when we see the sum total of devices, equipment, as well as consumer acceptance we felt there is no point delaying our LTE launch to 2017 and we have preponed our launch by one year in a phased manner luanching in 2016,” Idea CEO Himanshu Kapania said in an analyst call.
Idea had acquired 55Mhz of contiguous 5Mhz 1800 Mhz spectrum areas in 10 service areas in 2014 and 2015 for the launch of 4G services on LTE platform. The 10 circles where Idea will be launching 4G services are: Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, Punjab and Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and North East.