Is 4G an an­swer to In­dia’s con­nec­tiv­ity is­sues?

Voice&Data - - EDITORIAL -

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?

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