Is It Right Time For India To Launch 4G Networks?

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In 2010, India’s telecom regulator had sparked out the discussion to roll out 4G mobile networks across the country. It was astounding me a lot that what the need of the country to introduce 4G technology even when the auction of 3G networks had delayed by a year. It’s quite obvious that 4G networks will allow users to stream mobile multimedia such as TV broadcasts and online games on their 4G supported handsets with a speeds up to 10 times greater than the speed of 3G. According to a source, RIL was only the company had Broadband wireless Access (BWA) with pan-India spectrum by September 2011. The company had started to work on the second phase of its long-terms of evolution Time Division Duplex (LTT TDD) by October last year. Until the end of last year, WiMax was favorite among all operators for BWA services roll out–had been implemented most part of the world. LTE TDD is relatively a new technology offers ability to lowering data cost services to large extent.

 

There might be a big question, why it is delaying  of 4G roll out in India? For launching any new technology, there is a need of real world experiences,  India is lacking this, and I think this is the main reason why the delay in 4G roll out across the country.

Operators, 3G handsets manufactures, and other interested parties have invested a massive amount of money in order to implement 3G services in India.  Many of operators and the concerned parties who invested a lot in 3G spectrum bid might not have sufficient of funds available to invest on 4G projects or they wouldn’t like to take any other risks in future.

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After subtle investigation of the 4G networks across the world, we might find that 4G is not so urgency to roll out in India. Anyway, some investors and operators are still waiting to recover the investment from 3G by next 2-3 years.

However, operators are trying to recover the money as soon as possible before the roll out of 4G networks and that’s why, 3G tariff has reached to a sky level. The advent of 4G technology might compel to 3G operators to lower down their tariff cost to a minimal level. Anyway, if operators have overpaid for acquiring the spectrum then they should have to abide the loss alone, why users will bear such unnecessarily burden. Users should not be penalized and operators need to identify another option rather to exploit subscribers.

3G services were implemented in India by early 2011. The users are presently beleaguered with the patchy 3G services. It seems that there is marginal difference between 3G and 2.5G services. The 3G networks speed across the country is very pathetic  and it’s tough to view video on mobile TV. It was stated that 3G will revolutionized mobile experience through high-speed internet, video calls, mobile TV and interactive gaming, but users are feeling nostalgic with this network.  Till November last year, 19% customers  said  they were planning to use 3G services  . The actual 3G users were trivial compare to total connections, it was just 12 million among the total 860 million cellphone connections by November last year in the country.

Shabby networks’ speed and patchy connectivity are the major reasons why 3G has failed in India. A Vast number of 3G mobile handset users who uses 3G networks have complained that 3G experience being similar to EDGE and GPRS on 2G network. These issues are forcing consumers to give up 3G connections.

The opesrtors are currently trying to reduce the tariffs of 3G in order to have a stronger penetration in the market. It’s quite known that the penetration of internet in the rural areas of the country are still very low. It’s very difficult for rural folks to understand the technical termlogy and specification of either 3G or 4G technology. It’s pretty known that 3G or 4G technology is not compatible with 2G mobile phones, the users will have to buy another mobile phone for supporting 3G or 4G technology.

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A recent report has stated that the users are more fascinated towards apps downloads and media contents like video, music, news etc rather than phone calls. An another report reveals that users are more interested (especially youths) in messaging or sharing the data on social media network rather than phone calls.

Last year, 11.2 million Smartphone were shipped in India. The demand of Smartphone is continuously increasing day-by-day in India. A report states that 18 million 3G enabled handset were sold in the country last year, which is 153% growth year-over-year.

Despite of this, the Smartphone penetration in India is still low compare to other developed countries. Users are still relying more on the cheap features phone. Presently, India is the world’s second largest country in the number mobile subscribers. In present scenario, the mobile handsets which support 3G cost more than a normal 2G compatible handsets. A significant number of folks can not afford this, and same is also liable for 4G supported handsets. In India, users are not frequently changed their mobile handsets unlike the folks of developed countries do. If 4G networks will launch, definitely these users will prevent themselves to invest numbers of bucks to own the 4G supported handsets which cost more.

Recently, by hearing the 2G spectrum issues, the Supreme Court of India cancelled all 122 licenses, which might affect to 53.51 million 2G subscribers in coming months.  However, this situation benefit to some operators, expected some users might shift from 2G to 3G or 4G. Apart from this, 4G operators is currently declaring the cheaper networks tariff to subscribers. Some users might be lured by these operators to invest in 4G handsets.

Worldwide scenario has been changing, users are more relying on fast broadband connections. They are often use mobile devices for online shopping. At present, everything favors 4G to be launched in India, but reluctance of users to purchase expansive 4G compatible mobile handset, poor experience of previous 3G, lack of technical knowledge especially in rural areas and huge investment of operators in 3G spectrum (might upshot loss) have enforced to roll out 4G services in India.

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