Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reasons Behind Airtel's Choice of Kolkata as 4G Launchpad

Yesterday Airtel rolled out country's first 4G services in Kolkata. And many are wondered why Airtel chose Kolkata as 4G launch pad! The Telegraph India frontpage of 11th April said: Mystery of Calcutta turning 4G launchpad - All you wanted to know about the faster telecom service plus the debut theories. 

Airtel created a landmark in the history of wireless broadband in India, as Airtel 4G LTE, country's 1st 4G services launched in Kolkata on April 10, 2012. Details of Airtel 4G plans, devices and VAS are available here. (BSNL WiMAX was launched earlier, but no 2Mbps+ plans means you never see true potential of 4G.)

Before you say OMAAGAAD ! let me explain. I will also mention Telegraph India's points.
I asked our sources close to Telecomtalk that despite of the fact Kolkata is the lowest ARPU generating metro circle why Airtel chose it as country' first 4G city. They explained like these:

1. Broadband penetration is low in Kolkata, so they can capture untapped data market with 4G (broadband revolution). That leads me to think that pricing could be affordable and user-friendly. But ultimately Airtel brought plans targetting mid-user or enterprise customers, while device cost will keep most people at bay!

2. Secondly they are not in top position in Kolkata on 2G, and they do not have 3G spectrum in Kolkata. So 4G can be used to provide high speed wireless internet to Kolkata people.

3. Thirdly they like to continue the history. 2G started in 1995 from Kolkata, they liked to repeat history with 4G.

Telegraph India explained last 2 points and added another point that Airtel has Kolkata as only metro circle with 4G spectrum. As it is a metro they have cover a wide area within 5 years, so there is a roll out obligation for Kolkata. That is why ZTE is awarded this circle as equipment partner. ZTE can offer cheapest deal for LTE roll out and being eastern city Kolkata can be easiest route for China connection for ZTE. But don't treat ZTE as Chinese crap, rather ZTE is one of world leaders in LTE market with a lots of LTE patents.

Airtel appointed Nokia Siemens Network to Maharastra, Huawei for Karnataka and Ericsson for Punjab.
Though Airtel selected four different vendors for 4 different circles, Airtel offers Huawei's 4G data card and 4G WiFi CPE to its 4G customers. I confirmed from Airtel officials present at the launch event at Kolkata that these devices will be launched in all circles.

There is a strong rumor that airtel may buy Qualcomm's four 4G circles including most lucrative Delhi and Mumbai. Let's see who will be the equipment and technology partner for Airtel in these circles if Airtel buys off Qualcomm's Indian 4G assets. I will be wondered if Tata Teleservices does not look for atleast Mumbai circle from Qualcomm.

For details of Airtel 4G plans, devices and value added services, check telecomtalk.
Why Kolkata, Bob? Airtel 4G in Ek Minute!
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