Aircel plans to offer 3G services in India in about two months’ time, according to the latest news.
Until now Aircel’s 3G was expected to be on the verge of roll out – the company, in fact, already has trial 3G booths in some malls of Chennai. Aircel has got 3G spectrum in 13 of the 22 telecom circles in India.
The government of India earned about Rs. 67,700 crore from the 3G spectrum auctions last year. Talks of releasing 3G spectrum in India began as early as 2005, and these “next generation” networks were finally sold by the government in 2010.
So far, Tata Docomo and Reliance Communications are the only private operators offering 3G services, while government-run BSNL and MTNL have been serving 3G for over a year and at least till recently offered video calling services as well. Meanwhile, no private operator in India has a pan-India 3G licence, so the only way to offer countrywide roaming would be to tie up with other operators. Aircel and Tata Docomo have agreed to share 3G spectrum in those areas where only one of them has a license. Related: 3G service providers in India
Operators were betting on video call services over 3G to recover a fair portion of their investment in the spectrum. But the government of India has recently decided not to allow operators to offer video conferencing over 3G networks because these can’t be intercepted and therefore might be a threat to security. The Indian government earlier cited the same reason for demanding the shut down of BlackBerry’s encrypted messaging and e-mail services in India. Also see: Cheap 3G mobile phones in India
Analysts say India has a false policy of classifying wireless technologies as 3G and 4G etc. – different wireless technologies are not discrete and shouldn’t be treated so. Around the world 3G is being superseded by BWA or Broadband Wireless Access technologies LTE and WiMax (what is known as 4G technology in India). Within the country too LTE has been successfully tried out by Ericsson, which makes LTE broadband dongles, and by Reliance Communications, which has said it will launch LTE services on Dec. 28, 2011, – that particular date to mark the birthday of Reliance group founder Dirubhai Ambani. Reliance also launched its telecom services in India with CDMA technology on Dec. 28, 2002. Related: Reliance testing 4G services
RIL bought 95 percent of Infotel Broadband, a company with pan-India BWA spectrum licence, last year for Rs. 4,800 crore. It is now assessing proposals from equipment makers and other service providers to lay out the LTE network. By Dec. 28, RIL will also be able to build up an LTE ecosystem by tying up with equipment manufacturers for bundled devices.
While LTE networks and LTE enabled phones from HTC, Samsung and Motorola, etc., are in use in countries such as the United States, in India there still are very few LTE enabled phones. Among the companies with plans to provide LTE equipment in India are Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and ZTE Telecom.
Equipment refers to hardware required for network layout and that which the end user needs to access BWA. Aircel has contracted Nokia Siemens Networks for a batch of equipment and Tata Docomo has a contract with Huawei.