One of the fastest growing mobile phone markets in the world today is India. The telecom industry is booming & has been attracting large investments. As of March 2016, India has 1.033 Billion subscribers in total or 81.83% penetration rate. Airtel has over 250 million subscribers and Vodafone has almost 200 million subscribers. Idea and Reliance Communications are in the third & fourth places with 175 million & over a 100 million subscribers respectively.
So what is 4g technology all about? 4G is the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G. A 4G high speed internet system provides capabilities defined by ITU in IMT Advanced. Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D television, and cloud computing.
Originally envisioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the 4G system replaces traditional voice calls with IP telephony. A major issue in 4G systems is to make the high bit rates available in a larger portion of the cell, especially to users in an exposed position in between several base stations. With Trai struggling to resolve the call drops issue, subscribers feel that if 2G cannot provide quality voice calls then 4G is nowhere close to it, given it is new.
Several newer Android-based smartphones are now 4G LTE capable. 4G is penetrating deeper across Indian cities after its initial release by Bharti Airtel. Airtel being the first to bring 4G coverage to Indian cities, now provides connectivity in 13 states/circles. Other mobile operators are forced to concentrate more on 4G Networks and their coverage. Most Indian cities today enjoy continuous and compact 3G network coverage. As of today, Bharti Airtel and Aircel are the only two operators to successfully deploy 4G services in India. Other private telecom operators like Idea, Vodafone, Reliance Comm and Tata Docomo, having bought the 4G spectrum in India are likely to offer 4G services by 2016. Vodafone, which is one of the world’s largest telecom operators has finally started rolling out its own 4G network in India.
The Indian government has spent USD 32 billion on 4G services & India should overtake Japan to be the world’s 3rd largest 4G LTE market by 2016 & may also surpass U.S to be the world’s second largest smartphone market by 2017. Given that the market is in the state of transition from 2G to 3G to 4G and from feature phones to smartphones, the transition may take a while but it is happening very quickly.