Tata Docomo has rolled out 3G services in nine states on Diwali. The company is the first private operator to launch 3G services in the country, after public-sector telecom operator MTNL’s 3G offering.
Tata Docomo’s has more than 8 million subscribers in the states of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. As a sort of Diwali bonanza, customers in all these nine states can get to taste high-speed 3G services for free for one week, till November 11, after which Tata Docomo will announce its tariff structure and prices for 3G services.
People who have 3G compatible handsets or smartphones can now try out the service, turning their phones into complete multimedia devices. Live television? Possible. Internet gaming? Possible. Instant video broadcast? Possible. The 3G service will bring a whole new range of possibilities to mobile information. Related: Reliance 3G in India
Tata Docomo claims to have invested more than $500 million in setting up 3G services. It plans a foray into rural India too, which would greatly help with information dissemination across the country once other players also get up to speed on 3G. Tata Teleservices managing director Anil Sardana said he is confident of finishing the roll out of 3G services completely in these nine circles this year. Related: Aircel 3G in India
Japan’s NTT Docomo is the pioneer in 3G services and is the technical partner of Tata Docomo in India. The Tata Docomo 3G network in India will work on the same technology, the backbone of which Tata claims to have already built and was operating its 2G network on. The network will feature HSPA+ 3G service allowing an Internet download speed of about 21.1 Mbps. To put that in perspective, your average “broadband” home Internet connection is about 1 Mbps. Related: 3G service providers in India
Voice clarity is supposed to be much better than the regular 2G network, with the service supporting high-definition (HD) voice.
With the advent of more 3G-capable devices such as smartphones, dongles, tablets and laptops at multiple price points ranging from Rs. 5,000 to over Rs. 1 lakh, there are wide-ranging applications that 3G services can be put to.
But the biggest feature Tata Docomo is banking on with its 3G rollout is mobile TV services. It plans to offer about 50 channels that customers can view on their 3G-enabled handsets, which the company said it will later increase to about 90. Besides this, video chat, streaming live video, and 3D gaming are some of the other services that it plans to offer.
Sardana says that the company’s 3G footprint covers about 55 percent of households with an annual income of more than Rs. 3 lakh and 49 percent of households that come under the SEC A and B category.
NTT Docomo, Tata’s partner, has been setting benchmarks in the evolution of 3G technology. The company is already working on rolling out its 4G technology offerings. NTT Docomo claims to have tested its 4G technology with a downlink speed of 250 Mbps! It plans to commercialize this in a couple of months in Japan.
It may be a while before that 4G technology reaches India and even if it does, the tight licensing and spectrum allocation regulations in the country would be tough hurdles to negotiate. The roll out of 3G services also has faced its fair share of challenges in the country, with only public sector giant MTNL offering it at first, before private players were given permission to launch their services. Airtel and Vodafone are also putting in place their plans to roll out 3G services soon.