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India moves closer to 4G

4G will soon be launched. Consumers using 4G (LTE) networks will be connected even where the LTE network is unavailable as the new devices will switch to 3G or 2G, depending on which is available.

Qualcomm, in collaboration with Huawei, ZTE, Quanta and BandRich, today announced the launch of LTE TDD multi-mode devices which will support HSPA, LTE and EVDO networks in multiple frequencies.

The devices, which were displayed during an event in New Delhi, include data dongles, routers and tablets. The four companies that announced the products are both consumer brands as well as ODMs (original device manufactures).

This may pave the way for the roll out of 4G networks in India.The Government of India auctioned 4G spectrum in the country in June 2010 but other than BSNL, which launched high-speed 4G networks in some places using WiMax technology, no other operator has done anything in this regard.

One reason behind this is the lack of devices supporting LTE TDD multi-mode technology, which is preferred by operators because it offers backward compatibility with both GSM and CDMA 3G networks. This means that if there is no LTE network these devices will switch to a 3G or 2G network, whichever is available.

Announcing the launch, Avneesh Agrawal, president of Qualcomm India and South Asia, said, “The announcement of multi-mode LTE TDD devices today is a significant milestone for the commercialisation and deployment of LTE in concert with 3G for Indian BWA operators.”

While both ZTE and Huawei sell devices under their own brand name as well as by licensing to other companies, two new brands in India, Bandrich and Quanta, sell devices through licensing, and they manufacture for other brands. There will likely be several other brands coming to market as soon as networks start rolling out.

Indian handset brand Beetel of the Bharti group has already stated that it will launch LTE tablets based on Android around Diwali this year. Other manufacturers have also expressed their readiness to launch the device when the network starts being rolled-out.

Reliance Infotel, which is the sole winner of pan India 4G spectrum, is expected to begin the roll-out by Diwali. However, the company is still tight lipped about its plans.

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