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4G Deployment in India

While 3G plans are still taking off in India, talks are already on about launching 4G technology in the country
 4G in India
 
 

So far there is no specific definition to the successor of 2G and 3G; only that it is expected to provide a fast internet access available to mobile phone users. However, what distinguishes 4G technology from its predecessors is its MAGIC charm (Mobile multimedia, Any-where, Global mobility solutions over, integrated wireless and Customized services.)

It is expected to provide secure IP based mobile broadband solution to laptops, wireless modems, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Users will also get access to ultra-broadband Internet access, gaming services, and streamed multimedia.

Why does 4G Technology have an edge over 3G?

The primary difference between 3G and 4G is the data transfer speed. While users enjoy surfing speeds of up to 2 Mbps, 4G raises the bar much higher and promises speeds of 100 Mbps for high mobility communications like trains and cars and speed of 1 Gbps for low mobility communications like pedestrians. These speeds are quite unheard of, even for wired broadband in India.

3G utilizes WiMax and WiFi as separate wireless technologies, whereas 4G is expected to combine these two technologies. The flexibility of 4G technologies to be used in combination with GSM and CDMA has provided it an edge over other technologies.

One of the key technologies for 4G and beyond is called "Open Wireless Architecture (OWA)" supporting multiple wireless air interfaces in an open architecture platform.

Benefits of 4G

·         4Gtechnology will come with huge downloading capabilities for consumers regardless of which device they choose.

·         Network connections on 4G may be more accurate during travel.

·         4G will improve the power efficiency of the mobile device.

·         A 4G netbook could operate similarly to a lap top, but with smaller memory and fewer drives offering instant Internet access, downloading, and real-time Web chatting.

In all, 4G Technology with its high data rates will generate new trends for the market and prospects for established as well as for new telecommunication businesses.

Introduction of 4G Technology in the country

 It is a well-known fact that while mobile operators in India were welcoming 3G in India, many developed economies were focusing on deploying even advanced technology for faster data and content delivery at never before achieved speeds. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is therefore trying to bring the next generation mobile network- 4G to India which holds the promise of internet speeds up to 10 times faster than typical third-generation.

While telecommunication companies like NTT Docomo from Japan and Sprint Nextel have been deploying 4G wireless technologies from the early 2006, India is likely to see the launch of this technology later this year. "We should be ready to launch 4G... in the later half of 2012. We have large capacities in spectrum to move forward in 4G which is hopefully going to be launched towards end of next year," said the Telecom minister, Kapil Sibal.

Challenges in deployment of 4G Technology

While all the talks about introduction of the 4G technology in the country at the moment seem hunky dory, there are some issues that need to be addressed.

The 3G network which offers entertainment such as Fast Communication, Internet, mobile TV, video conferencing, video calls, Multi Media Messaging Service (MMS), 3D games, multiplayer etc, has been launched in the system since start of the year, but it has not penetrated to the extent desired due to high costs and poor service.

Furthermore, there is not much utility content available on mobile internet except for entertainment channels. So the major challenge facing these applications is not the technology itself, but the bottlenecks of information. “You can bring in device but you don’t have the content. There is no point of having that device. One of the biggest problems you are facing in the country is that data is just not available,” says Sibal. “All stakeholders must come on board to develop content beyond entertainment,” he added.

India is the world's second-largest mobile market and it is just the wealthier segment of India's population who can access modern communications technology.

However, that has not deterred Industry experts and Internet service providers to already start talking about 4G (4th Generation) services. Telcos are currently testing the 4G gear and support technology that would be a prerequisite before the rollout of the 4G services all over the country.

Augere Wireless Broadband India, who has already bagged Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum for those 2 states, is planning to launch 4G services in Bhopal by January and by April in 14 cities of Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh. The Company will be offering 4G broadband services under its “ZOOSH” brand.

It is going to be interesting to see when & how other BWA spectrum holders will launch their 4G services. Reliance is the only one who has Pan-India BWA license. Other companies who hold BWA spectrum include Aircel, Tikona Wireless, Airtel and Qualcomm. But for now, it looks like the demand for 4G in India may be held back with consumers seeing little need for applications provided by the ultra-fast system.

One of the other important aspects for 4G adoption will also depend on 4G enabled mobile handsets – Currently, there isn’t even a single 4G enabled handset being sold in India. Even if it does get launched, its cost is expected to be significantly higher.

Telecom operators have already spent a fortune auctioning for the 3G spectrum and they would be further strained when 4G arrives.

Now the dilemma before TRAI is whether to popularize 3G technology which is 10 years old or to step directly to the most advanced - 4G technology. All statistics only hint that India is at least 3-4 years away from actually deploying 4G.

 

Pooja Thakkar 

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