Bharti Airtel has launched 4G (LTE) services in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula. The service will offer data download speeds up to 100 Mbps. Airtel had already launched its 4G services in Kolkata, Bangalore and Pune.
The service will be able to support streaming of High Definition (HD) videos, and other services that work on high speed networks. However unlike Pune, where the company has announced support for voice services, in rest of the circles including Chandigarh no such announcement has been made.
Also, Airtel has launched the LTE service with only two devices – a 4G multimode Dongle and a WiFi router (CPE) both priced at Rs 4,999. It has five unlimited plans with high speed data limit post which users will get speed of 128 Kbps only. The unlimited plans start at Rs 999 for 6 GB. There are Rs 1,399, Rs 1,999, Rs 2,999 and Rs 4,799 plans as well for which you would get 9 GB, 18 GB, 30 GB and 50 GB of high speed data respectively.
Airtel is offering discounts with all these plans. For instance, in the Rs 999 plan, you will get Rs 147 back every month for six months. Similarly, Rs 1,399 plan gives Rs 466 off for 6 months, Rs 312 is waived off every month for 12 months in the Rs 1,999 plan. In the other two plans, you will get Rs 417 off every month for 12 months.
Airtel is also offering Smartbytes, which basically allows you to buy extra high speed data quota. These are priced at Rs 600, Rs 875 and Rs 1500 offering 3 GB, 5 GB and 10 GB extra data.
The plans are not very expensive when you compare these with 3G services, and since all the plans are unlimited you will not even get a bill shock. However, currently there are no tablets or smartphones in the market which are compatible to use the 4G services, so you can only make use of the 4G network with your laptops or as a home/office broadband network.
Airtel is currently the only player to offer 4G services in the country. However once players like Reliance Industries (RIL) launches their service we will see more competition and a steep drop in 4G data tariffs.
In 2010, Airtel had successfully bid for BWA license spectrum in Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra (excluding Mumbai) circles. Additionally, last year, Bharti Airtel acquired 49 percent interest in Qualcomm’s India entities that hold BWA licenses in Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala.
The company has said that it is currently working towards rolling out state-of-the-art networks in remaining license circles. And we know from our sources that Delhi and Mumbai circles are next in line for the launch.