India’s top mobile firm, Bharti Airtel, No. 2 Reliance Communications, Vodafone, Tata Teleservices, and Idea Cellular spent a combined $23 billion for licenses in recent 3G and 4G spectrum auctions (auction results) in the world’s fastest-growing cellular market. Most are working aggressively to launch TD-LTE systems in India in 2012, says The Hindu Business Line.
Reliance Industries bought Infotel Broadband, the sole winner of pan-India broadband airwaves. Infotel won 22 circles. Qualcomm won 20 MHz of TDD BWA spectrum in the 2.3GHz band covering the key telecom circles of Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala. The company spent more than US$1 billion on the airwaves.
A Reliance Industries official confirmed to the Hindu Business Line that the company would launch broadband wireless access services sometime during 2012. Tikona too is gearing up to launch 4G services in 2012 with TD LTE (Long term evolution) as its backbone.
Sanjay Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer, Bharti Airtel said, “We look forward to the advent of 4G technology which will be launched in India at the same time as the rest of the world. Coexisting with other technologies like Edge, 3G and DSL will further provide an impetus to the adoption of data services.”
The Mukesh Ambani company, which had pan-India BWA spectrum, is rumored to be in discussions with several device makers to procure tablet computers and launch them at a low price bundled with a TD-LTE data offering.
Big winners in the 2.3 GHz (4G) auction earlier this year included Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone Essar, and Tikona Digital Networks. The decision by Reliance and Qualcomm to back LTE TDD, may result in an unstoppable LTE wave in India.
The Indian telecommunications industry includes some 706 Million telephone (landlines and mobile) subscribers with 670 Million mobile phone connections as of Aug 2010. Virtually none are yet 3G. According to Informa Telecoms latest forecast, the number of active mobile subscriptions in India will rise to 1.159 billion by the end of 2013, making it the world’s largest mobile market.
Qualcomm won 2.3GHz spectrum (20 MHz) in four telecom circles of India in the recently held BWA spectrum auctions and plans to go with TD-LTE. TD-LTE gained credence once China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless operator, said it planned to deploy TD-LTE across its network. China currently has over 720 million mobile cellular subscribers, more than twice as many as the United States.
Only nine million of India’s 1 billion people have access to broadband. India’s Department of Telecoms hopes the country will have about 48 million broadband users by 2012, and 100 million by 2014.
ABI Research says more than two billion of the world’s population is now being covered by high-speed data networks, with more than 500 3G networks, and over 300 WiMAX and LTE announcements to date. World-wide, mobile devices with integrated wireless broadband are expected to top 2 billion by 2014, according to research firm In-Stat.
India has 100 million internet users, the third-largest user base behind China and the United States. That base is forecast to grow to 300 million users in the next three years.
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