Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Why is Airtel Shouting 4G Network Can Offer Max 40Mbps?

Many people are asking a question regarding Airtel 4G launch, that is why Airtel is saying its LTE-TDD network can provide upto 40 Mbps downlink and upto 20 Mbps uplink while most of LTE carriers over the globe are shouting about 100Mbps speed.

With Airtel's promise to deliver upto 40Mbps downlink, I checked out that during launch events at Kolkata Airtel 4G delivered around 32Mbps, while at Bengaluru launch event it was around 38Mbps as speedtest.net results say. But upload speed is not so good, on average 8Mbps.

at Bengaluru
at Kolkata

After weeks of Airtel 4G launch at Kolkata, I got an opportunity to try out Airtel 4G. That was kind of real time test zone, as there was another 4 people accessing Airtel 4G along with me. I got around 1.9MiB/s ~ 16Mbps. That is pretty good.

But soon after I posted this on telecomtalk, many readers commented there that they are getting more than 20Mbps speed on 3G too! Only explanation of this is these operators' 3G network is practically free of traffic and that's why people are getting 20Mbps+ speed on Reliance's 28Mbps or Vodafone/Idea's 21Mbps HSPA network.

Just now I have come accorss a webpage of SingTel. They says:

On 3.6Mbps modem your realtime download speed range will be 0.8 - 2.1 Mbps
On 7.2Mbps modem your realtime download speed range will be 1.4 - 3.7 Mbps
On 21Mbps modem your realtime download speed range will be 1.7 - 4.8 Mbps
On 75Mbps capable 4G network you can get around 3.4 - 12Mbps.

So wait till 3G adoption gets high, 3G speed will be low, while 4G will outperform 3G then, But still Airtel 4G did not deliver us 50Mbps+ speed atleast on speedtest.net ! Airtel 4G network is not clogged now, why can't show atleast 30Mbps+ speed.

Why Airtel is saying of such low capacity (40Mbps instead of 100Mbps) ? I guess it is due to lack of fiber network to backhaul 4G traffic at parts of Kolkata (don't know about B'lore). May be some other reasons! :( But this is a bad impression created for Airtel 4G.

Update via people concerned about Airtel 4G: 

1. Why 40Mbps? Why not 100Mbps like other global LTE plans? 

Globally FD LTE has a relatively large deployment base and mature devices. TD LTE has picked up in last 1 year and the device ecosystem is in a nascent stage compared to its FDD cousin. The current TD LTE devices are CAT 3 (category 3) that do not support speeds up to 100 mbps. However, as the TD LTE device ecosystem matures, in subsequent categories it will definitely support speeds up to or higher than 100 mbps.  

2. In real time I got 16Mbps around as I tested Airtel 4G. People are saying they are also getting similar or more speed on Vodafone or Reliance 3G. Why would they take 4G? High device cost and coverage is very low! 

The practical speed on any 3G/ 4G wireless network varies, depending on the number of users latched on to the network, the distance from the cell site, device capability etc. One would experience a lower than design speed as mentioned above,  if a number of users are concurrently doing heavy downloads. The converse is also true on any wireless network.

In addition to providing a true wireless broadband experience, 4G LTE  technology  has a very low latency rate (< 5-30 ms) and is enabled on a wide range of spectrum. It also provides high speed mobility (on the move) support. This makes it suitable for HD video streaming, multi user video chats, real time communication, online gaming etc that require very low latency. This also makes it suitable for various M2M workloads and running business applications.
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