Bharti Airtel has rolled out its 4G LTE service in Pune, Maharashtra.This follows the company’s 4G rollout in Kolkata in April and in Bangalore in May 2012. In June 2010, Airtel had secured BWA spectrum in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Kolkata for a total consideration of Rs. 3314.36 crores during the Broadband Wireless Access spectrum auction. The company has partnered with different vendors for each deployment: Nokia Siemens Networks, Huawei, Ericsson and ZTE to build and operate its TD-LTE (time division duplex long term evolution) network in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Kolkata, respectively.
Online purchase: Customers in Pune can check the availability of Airtel 4G services in their area online through a Google Maps interface, and buy services online. Apart from that, Airtel 4G will also be available on monthly EMI’s and cash on delivery. The online payment service will soon be made available in Kolkata and Bangalore as well.
Tariff: The 4G tariff in Pune remains unchanged. Airtel will offer breakfree, breakfree max, breakfree ultra tariff, and breakfree ultimate plans. While Breakfree will offer 6GB data for a monthly rental of Rs 999, breakfree max will offer 9GB data for a monthly rental of Rs 1399 and breakfree ultra will offer 18GB data for a monthly rental of Rs 1999. The breakultimate plan, first introduced in Bangalore, will offer 30GB for a monthly rental of Rs 2999. After the usage of free data, the 4G speeds will throttle down to 128kbps across all plans.
For Postpay customers: Airtel is offering bill discounts to postpaid customers. The customers on Rs 999 plan will receive Rs 167/bill discount for the first six bill cycles, customers on Rs 1399 plan will receive Rs 466/bill discount for the first six bill cycles, customers on Rs 1999 plan will receive Rs 312/bill discount for the first six bill cycles, and customers on Rs 2999 plan will receive Rs 417/bill discount for the first six bill cycles.
Apart from that, Airtel has also introduced smartbytes for postpay customers to extend their 4G data cap after they exhaust their limit. Airtel will offer 3GB, 5GB and 10GB data for Rs 600, Rs 875 and Rs 1500 respectively.
Speed: Airtel claims that the download speeds can reach up to 40 Mbps and upload speeds can reach up to 20 Mbps.
Devices: Currently available Airtel provides Dongles, CPE devices including multi-mode USB dongles (Huawei E392) and a Indoor Wireless gateway (Huawei B593). The indoor CPE with WiFi device is available for Rs. 4999 and the Multi-mode 4G dongle is priced at Rs. 4999.
Content: Airtel will offer Games On-Demand service which will bundle video games like FIFA and NFS from publishers including as EA, Ubisoft, Square-Enix, PopCap and Alawar. The service will cost Rs. 5 a day for 30 games, to a full-fledged Rs. 199 plan offering over 350 games for a month. Around seven Games On-Demand plans are now available for customers. Customers can also get these games on Airtel 4G through a limited period trial offer. Apart from that, Airtel Movies, which was launched in Bangalore, now includes about 1250 titles. The monthly subscription pack is Rs.149, however, Airtel 4G customers can avail the service for free as a trial offer. The service includes movies such as Singham, Bodyguard, Pyar Ka Panchnama, among others.
Airtel Broadband TV: Airtel 4G customers can stream live TV content directly onto their laptop or desktop without the prerequisite of a cable or set-top box connection. The service is currently available for free as a limited period introductory offer. Once the offer expires, the service will will be priced at Rs.150 and Rs 49 for monthly and weekly subscribers respectively.
Other developments: It should be noted that we had previously reported that Airtel has been able to sign-up 3,180 subscribers. The data was provided by the Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology, Milind Deora in the Lok Sabha.
RIL hasn’t revealed its 4G service rollout strategy yet, and it’s been almost close to two years that the company acquired pan-India BWA spectrum through the acquisition of Infotel Broadband, which had won BWA spectrum in all 22 circles in the country for Rs 12,847.77 crore during the 2010 BWA auctions.
Neither BSNL not MTNL has launched its 4G service yet. BSNL has been reporting losses for the last three years. The operator was also looking to surrender its BWA spectrum and had received the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)’s nod in December 2011. BSNL had paid Rs 8,313.80 crore to acquire spectrum in 17 circles. Although DoT has accepted BSNL’s request, the company will receive a refund only when the spectrum is put on auction.
Tikona Digital has been reported to have invested in 4G gear but it hasn’t rolled out its 4G service in India yet. Tikona has 4G licences in five circles including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh-East, Uttar Pradesh-West and Himachal Pradesh.