Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kolkata connects India to 4G era

Faster Internet, But Sibal Stresses Affordability At Launch


[Source: ]

Kolkata: Sixteen years after it ushered in the cellphone revolution in India, with chief minister Jyoti Basu making the first call to telecom minister Sukhram on July 31, 1995, Kolkata once again made telecom history on Tuesday by becoming the first Indian city to have a 4G link. 

The service, an abbreviation for fourth generation wireless, was launched by Airtel, whose predecessor in the city, Modi Telstra, had launched the cellphone service from the city with Basu’s historic call. It wasn’t just the emotional factor that made the city an automatic choice for the 4G launch. A senior Airtel
official said the 4G infrastructure in the city had been put in place before others by ZTE Corporation, China’s largest listed telecom equipment company roped in to plan, design, deploy and supply the 4G network in Kolkata. And in remarks that would show Bengal and its capital in positive light to the industry, Bharti Airtel chairman and managing director Sunil Bharti Mittal, who unveiled the service along with telecom minister Kapil Sibal, thanked the state government for fast clearances. 

So, Kolkatans can now ac
cess ultra-fast broadband service that, according to experts, is expected to be five times as fast as 3G. But a 4G connection will not offer voice or text services (in other words, you cannot use it to make calls or send SMSs). The service is being provided through dongles, which will allow you to link up with computers, laptops and some tablets. A 4G network lets users download songs and stream movies much more quickly than with 3G or WiFi.

But as with the rest of the world, its success in India, too, will depend on affordability, a point Sibal emphasized, confessing the 3G story hadn’t been a successful one.

4G supersedes the 3G network. A mobile device in this network exchanges data at 100 Mbit/sec. In a 3G network, data speed is only 3.84 Mbit/sec.
Download speeds can reach up to 40mbps while upload speeds may be up to 20mbps. 
Ideal for high-definition video and movie streaming.
“I dare say that though 3G was launched, the benefits are not yet seen by the aam admi. Now, we are launching the 4G. And with this launch, we have our sights set on an era where the aam admi will have access to 4G. But a lot of work has to be done because even 3G handsets are not yet affordable. What Sunil (Mittal) has done is allowed a network to be established. But the rest of the industry must ensure that relevant devices, which will connect with the network are low-cost and affordable. It is only then that the true revolution will come about in India,” Sibal said.
He said the government would play the role of facilitator in all endeavours to upgrade technology. “While we shall provide environment to the industry to manufacture those, the industry has to deliver low-cost quality smartphones. This is the challenge before the industry. They pay such huge prices for the spectrum and there is no liquidity in the market left for them to invest in the infrastructure and the devices, which will deliver 3G services. That is the reason why 2G was successful and 3G was not successful and I hope that the industry will reflect on it now,” he added.
Sanjay Kapoor, CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said prices are also a function of input costs. Spectrum availability in adequate quantities at affordable prices is also important for the industry players. “That’s why we have always requested the government that there shouldn't be no artificial control on the spectrum. Till there is enough spectrum available affordability will become a better driver than what it is today,” he said.
The IT software industry has welcomed the revolutionary 4G launch in Kolkata. 

“Many people have forgotten that the first telephonic experience was executed by A J C Bose in Kolkata. Now the 4G launch in Kolkata adds to the glory,” said Suparno Moitra, regional manager (east), Nasscom.
Hailing it as a big achievement for the state, S Radhakrishnan, chairman, Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council, said, “It is a great achievement for Bengal. After a long time, we can say, what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.”
According to Acclaris (India) MD Subrata Mukherjee, “An ultra fast service like 4G is extremely necessary for the humongous amount of data usage and applications related activities. Without 4G, many technical developments won’t make sense so it is extremely important.”

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