Airtel 3G and 4G: long way to go for Indian mobile broadband leadership

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16 Feb 2012
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Airtel 3G and 4G: long way to go for Indian mobile broadband leadership

Telecom Lead India: Sunil Mittal is the power behind the Qualcomm-Airtel deal that brought two lucrative Mumbai and Delhi circles to Airtel. The Airtel CMD is nurturing the aspiration of achieving broadband leadership across the country.

The dream can be achieved by competing with the Mukesh Ambani-promoted Infotel Broadband Services which has pan-India TD LTE licenses.

Reliance Industries arm to set up 100,000 towers for 4G LTE operations in three years
At present, there is no clarity on the launch date. The industry is hoping that Reliance Industries will launch TD LTE services in Mumbai and Delhi on December 28.

"With a broadband ready network across India, Bharti is well positioned to lead the next phase of Indian's telecom revolution," said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director, Bharti Airtel.

For Airtel to become the true nationwide broadband player, it needs few more circles. Tikona is looking for a strategic partner. Airtel could explore this route. We are also not hearing much about Aircel's 4G plans. Augere is also seeking a buyer for its 4G business in India.

Qualcomm paid Rs 2,241 crore and Rs 2,292 crore for Delhi and Mumbai circles, respectively, during the 2010 BWA auction. Airtel paid $149 million for 49 percent stake. The deal is lucrative for Airtel.

Nationwide presence is important for Airtel to enjoy economies of scale and huge subscriber base.

Since 3G roaming among operators was not allowed by the telecom department, Airtel will be forced to buy more. Consolidation is already in the offing in the wake of the recent Spectrum base price controversy.

Airtel said it already has BWA licenses in four circles - Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra - and 3G licenses in thirteen circles in India. The Qualcomm deal will enable Airtel to secure a nation-wide broadband leadership through a combination of 4G and 3G, with its own networks in 18 circles.

Bharti has already taken the lead in LTE TDD space by launching 4G services in Kolkata and Karnataka Circles.

Since the government was not keen to sell 700 MHz spectrum before 2014, buying 4 BWA circles from Qualcomm was a must for Airtel to spread its wings.

BSNL will not give up its leadership in fixed broadband business. Mobile broadband will be the only route to gain leadership for Airtel. National telecom policy and forthcoming 2G spectrum auction will determine the success of Reliance Industries.

TD-LTE subscribers to reach 5 million by 2013 in Indian telecom market
2012-13 will be the year of mobile broadband. We want Reliance Industries to launch. So there will be more competition and price drops.

TD-LTE smartphones will be ready for launch this year
Indian LTE market will pick up after 2 years as there will be more LTE smartphone launches in 2012-13 from OEMs such as Nokia, Samsung, and Apple, as well as significant surge in data consumption.
Airtel 4G, i guess Airtel provoding first 4G networks in India.
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