Internet services provider Tikona Digital says it will start providing 4G broadband services in the first half of 2016 across 30 cities in five telecom circles, reports The Economic Times. Note that back in 2012, Tikona CMO Heramb Ranade had mentioned that they plan to launch 4G services in the country by early 2014. That’s quite a delay.
Tikona had won 20 MHz of 4G spectrum in five telecom circles of Gujarat, UP-East, UP-West, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, for which it had paid Rs 1,058 crore in the 2010 BWA auction. Note that the BWA obligations for Tikona have already kicked in on August 31. As per these obligations, all BWA licensees should 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changing areas (SDCAs) by 2015 (five years of the effective date), failing which the BWA spectrum provided will be withdrawn.
The Economic Times report adds that the company is currently running a commercial pilot to offer high-speed broadband services in Varanasi, targeting home and enterprise users. Ranade also told the publication that they’ll be pricing the service at around a fifth of current 3G prices.
Tikona offers wireless broadband services to home consumers and small enterprises (through the acquisition of HCL Infinet) and is currently operational operational in 25 Indian cities after winding down services in 13 cities in December 2012.
Tikona raised $45 million investment from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and existing investors. Of this, IFC has invested $25 million into Tikona while the remaining $20 million is from existing investors like Goldman Sachs, Oak Investment Partners, Everstone Capital Advisors and L&T Infrastructure Finance Co Ltd.
Other 4G rollouts
– Telecom operator Vodafone India will launch its 4G services by the end of this year, starting with Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi and Kochi in the first part of the rollout. Other than this, the company will roll out its 3G networks in 7 circles: in the Northeast, Assam, UP West, Kerala, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Odisha.
– In August, Videocon said it would launch its 4G services in MP, Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab by then end of this year. CEO Arvind Bali said then that the company would invest Rs 550 crore by end of this fiscal to roll out the 4G services in the identified circles. Note that in February, Videocon had said that it would be rolling out4G services in in Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West and Bihar telecom circles, though no specific date had been revealed.
– Airtel, which launched commercial operations for 4G services in 296 towns and cities earlier in August, is currently offering 4G data packs starting from Rs 25. The company also tied up with Flipkart to offer handsets with Airtel 4G SIMs, and with Samsung to facilitate SIM swaps. Samsung also offers Airtel 4G data benefits on select 4G devices.
– 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 also be rolling out its complete commercial operations by December this year.
– Idea also advanced its 4G launch plans by one year to 2016, as it mentions that prices of equipment and smartphones that support the technology have dropped. 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 Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and North East.
Image source: Flickr user Thomas Hawk