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MTNL 3G Services Demo’ed; Commercial Launch By Mid Feb

MTNL 3G Video Call

MTNL 3G Video Call

Updated below
At the India Telecom 2008 Summit today, 3G services were launched with an inaugural video conversation between Telecom Minister A.Raja and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. However, that was just a “soft launch” – 3G infrastructure has not been fully deployed yet, and MTNL sources told MediaNama that the 3G network is present only in a 10 km radius around Central Delhi.

According to our sources, the commercial launch of 3G services is planned for the middle of February, though it could also stretch to early March, depending on the infrastructure rollout. MTNL is yet to finalize a tariff plan, and despite repeated prodding, the executives at the MTNL stall did not comment on the tariff.

We did get to try out some of the services that have been launched:

1. Video Calling: 

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Not really a killer app, video calling hasn’t been successful as a 3G service since not many users would like to see each other. We did take a look at the video call – there’s a hint of a lag between the voice and the video, but I, for one, cannot see myself holding a phone in front of me when making a call. It could be useful, as a journalist, to have a video recording feature though. Can do video interviews from anywhere.

MTNL 3G TV

2. Mobile TV:

At present there are mobile TV services from Aksh Optifibre. These are hosted on a portal, which is accessed via the mobile web. The content is streamed to the handset from the portal. The frames froze a bit every now and then. I’ll give it another go tomorrow, to get a sense of the channel switching time. But I dont know if the 3G networks will be able to provide good quality video streaming if 10,000 users are viewing a Cricket match simultaneously. 

3. Video Surveillance:

This is slightly complicated – it involves connecting the surveillance camera to a broadband connection, which is then connected to the mobile handset through a 3G services. Users have to call 12345003, enter their PIN number, select the desired location and view the feed from the surveillance camera. The camera can then be controlled remotely using the keys 2, 4, 6, 8, and can also zoom in.

4. Mobile Broadband:

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MTNL 3G Modem

This is, quite frankly, the only aspect of 3G which appeals to me. At present, CDMA based USB modems offers erratic speeds of 4kbps to 8kbps.

The standard speed is of around 2500 Kbps, though it can peak at around 3.5 Mbps. MTNL has 3G USB modems for laptops.

5. Video Portal

I wasn’t able to try this out, but according to MTNL, users have to make a call to 52562, select a video portal and view the clips available.

Killer App?

For me Video isn’t going to be the killer app on 3G: I’m probably going to use it more for VoIP calls (perhaps using Fring) and accessing news and email. I will probably watch more videos, but not too often…so video won’t be the killer app for me

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If you had 2500kbps access on the mobile, how do you think your usage patterns would change? 

Update: on second thoughts, given India’s young and h*rny male population, p*rn over 3G will probably get in the data revenues…legal or not. So yes, p*rn might just be a killer app.

Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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