In an effort to make maximum headway before Reliance Jio launches 4G services in December this year, Bharti Airtel, India's largest service provider, has begun trialing 4G services in the lucrative Delhi National Capital Region (NCR). (See RJio to Launch 4G in December.)
Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) was the first service provider to launch 4G services in India, having introduced the technology in Kolkata in 2012. Since then, the operator has made 4G services available in a number of locations, including Bengaluru, Pune, Chandigarh, Karnal and Yamunanagar. It has also been running 4G trials in the cities of Hyderabad, Vizag, Chennai, Coimbatore and Mumbai.
The company is believed to have tied up with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , China's telecom equipment bellwether, on the NCR trial.
Customers participating in that trial will be able to upgrade from 3G to 4G services at no additional cost. Bharti Airtel has indicated it will make improvements to its offering based on customer feedback.
As part of the trials, and to spur development of the 4G ecosystem, South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) will offer 4G devices with Bharti Airtel SIMs, while Indian e-commerce site Flipkart is also teaming up with the operator, offering double the normal data benefits for customers buying 4G handsets on its site.
Bharti Airtel's aim is to establish as much of a lead as possible over RJio in the next six months. It already has a 4G network of 20,000 sites and plans to double this number by the end of the year.
The operator is using a combination of TDD and FDD technology in Delhi and its 4G network will also use WiFi and small cells for indoor coverage.
— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading