Bharti Airtel News - Bharti Airtel rolls out 4G in Bangalore

KOLKATA: Bharti Airtel, the country's largest mobile operator by subscribers, launched wireless broadband services in Bangalore on Monday, less than a month after it became the first Indian telco to unveil fourth generation services in Kolkata.

Bharti bought 4G airwaves in four service areas in the 2010 auctions for Rs 3314.36 crore. It will next launch wireless broadband services in Pune and Chandigarh. Bharti's network gear supplier in Bangalore is China's Huawei.Sanjay Kapoor, Bharti Airtel's CEO (India & South Asia) said "Airtel 4G would enable superfast access to high definition (HD) video streaming, multiple chatting, instant phot uploads besides offering rich content".

4G is also slated help SMEs get more efficient by enabling them to access cloud computing services in the workplace and reinforce IT infrastructure optimally. It will also benefit internet data users in fixed locations.

Bharti's 4G service by its own admission is not fit for mobile users yet but it's known to be in talks with Chinese OEMs to bring 'mifi' devices that will enable people in India to access fourth generation services from their 3G smartphones. Since 4G phones are at least a year away in India, the world's fifth-largest telco by customers sees the 'mifi' as an ideal intermediary device to put in the hands of its 8 million-plus 3G users to ring in massification of data usage.

A tiny, battery-operated, wireless device about half the size of a cellphone, a mifi is easy to carry and can help a user hook on to a 4G network through the wifi feature in his 3G phone. At present, a mobile user can plug on to Airtel's 4G network with a 3G phone using a device known as an indoor customer premise equipment or CPE, but he would be confined to a room. A mifi device, on the contrary, will give him mobility.

On Monday, Bharti also rolled out a new data plan to offer 30GB of data download at a monthly rental of Rs 2999 in Bangalore.

The company is also introducing a catalogue of 35 movies for its 4G customers. The subscription for online movie streaming is Rs 149 a month.

At present, Bharti has BWA airwaves in the 2.3 GHz band only in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kolkata and Punjab. But the corporate grapevine has been abuzz that it is keen to buy US chipmaker Qualcomm's 4G licences to enter the biggest telecom markets of Delhi and Mumbai.

The telco has also expressed its intent to pitch for more efficient 4G airwaves in the 700 MHz band but sector regulator Trai's suggestion that such an auction transpire at a later date, preferably in 2014 in absence of an LTE ecosystem, could mire the telco's 4G gameplan.

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