Airtel, which has 4G license in eight circles (including 4 of Qualcomm) and is already offering TD LTE based 4G services in Kolkata, Bangalore and Pune, is planning to offer voice services also to its LTE subscribers.
Generally LTE is meant to offer only data services but there are technologies that enable voice calls also on these networks. According to a report by Information Week India, Airtel is planning to deploy Circuit Switched Fall Back (CSFB) technology which can transfers the users to 3G or 2G network during voice or video calls. Given Airtel has a pan India 2G network this is a better thing to do.
The operator has already started the trials in the three cities where its LTE network is in operation. While Airtel is better positioned to use this technology, its 4G rival Reliance Industries limited (RIL) will be using ‘voice over LTE’ technology which is akin to making a VoIP (Skype etc) calls, however users will get a designated number just like in case of mobile call. RIL doesn’t have 2G or 3G network in the country and therefore will not be able to use the CSFB tech, but to their advantage they have a PAN India 4G spectrum which no other operator has.
Other operators in the fray are Aircel and Tikona. While Tikona is a data only player, Aircel has similar capabilities as Airtel, and can therefore look at deploying CSFB tech.