Is 4G an answer to India’s connectivity issues?
Bharti Airtel has the first mover 4G-advantage to its credit. Today, Airtel 4G services already span about 300 cities and towns in India, and the company is pushing 4G as an answer to all connectivity issues.
Other telcos are following suit, rolling out 4G services. Vodafone and Idea Cellular are gearing up to showcase might. MTS is merging capabilities with RCom. And RCom and RJio, enabled by spectrum trading and sharing guidelines, are coming together in a strategic collaboration to offer a mix that suits their wide combined customer base.
It appears that by January 2016, by and large, 4G will be available across India, and all the telcos would be offering it.
But is 4G the answer to India’s connectivity issues?
Recently, Advertizing Council of India (ASCI) directed Airtel to stop advertising ‘misleading claims’ about fastest Internet’ on its 4G. The advert aired on television is a youthful teaser that promotes a lifetime free offer, if a customer can prove that any other mobile broadband operator is able to give faster Internet speed than Airtel 4G.
The fact is, at one point of time 3G also held the same promise. And, that promise of great connectivity and speed is still not leveraged in the country where data demand is choking the networks and operators are finding it difficult to match the demand. With 4G the demand will rise manifold and the result will be the same – choked networks and unhappy customers.
The key utility of mobile broadband is to provide high speed broadband on the move, which in the current context means switching between networks, 2G to 3G to 4G depending upon the network coverage. How seamless this switch is decides the connectivity quality for a customer and defines customer experience. Moving to 4G is unlikely to address the seamless, continuous connectivity issue in the country.
What then is the answer to India’s Internet woes?
Perhaps, some standardization of network and speed for India market will enable Digital India to take off better.
Recently, BSNL announced making available 2mbps, as the minimum acceptable speed for broadband since October 1, 2015, on customer premise. It is high time TRAI also revises the broadband definition of 512 kbps in India to 2 mbps.
Moreover, what India would really like to see is operators vying to give customers higher seamless speed with existing infrastructure as well… while they chase 4G and 5G. Any takers?