Bharti Airtel is all set to launch its 4G services in Kolkata this month. However, there are no 4G (LTE) devices in the Indian market right now. Hence, users can only enjoy 4G through dongles which Airtel will sell.
These dongles will be supplied by ZTE, a Chinese company, which is rolling out the 4G network and managing it for Airtel's Kolkata operations.
A ZTE spokesperson confirmed that the company will supply 4G dongles to Airtel. The spokesperson, however, refused to disclose the price of the dongles saying that it will be up to Airtel to decide pricing.
Going by international prices, though, the Airtel 4G data card is expected to cost approximately Rs 3,500. Airtel could price it lower or higher depending on its market strategy.
Airtel expects that its 4G services will see good uptake. Sanjay Kapoor, chief executive officer of Bharti Airtel (India and South Asia), had said, "According to industry estimates, by 2016, six percent of all mobile connections will have 4G connections, which would create 36 per cent of the total mobile data traffic, thus paving the way for the ensuing data revolution. The impending launch of 4G in the country will provide ultra high speed data access, driving fundamental changes in society at large. We look forward to the launch of 4G technology in India, which will be timed to match the world in its launch."
Many device makers have said that they will bring LTE tablets to the market. But since for now only Kolkata is to have 4G, we do not see device makers launching these tablets just now.
Device makers will start launching tablets with LTE support when Reliance Infotel, which has a pan India 4G license, rolls out 4G services.
Reliance plans to make 4G a volume game and will price 4G dongles and tablets very attractively with an estimated price of Rs 500 for dongles. However, Reliance has remained tight lipped about its launch plans and the industry expects 4G to come only after the second half of this year.