Bharti Airtel to set up 100 Mbps 4G network in Maharashtra

After the deluge of 3G equipment contracts, equipment makers are now in line for big 4G equipment contracts from Indian telecom operators.

First off the block is India’s largest telecom firm Bharti Airtel, which has given its first 4G contract to Nokia Siemens Networks. The network will support speeds of up to 100 Mbps, or about 10 times what most current 3G networks can support at a maximum now.

The service will be launched later this year.

None of the major operators have pan-India 4G spectrum. Most, like Bharti, have spectra in about 40-50% of the states in the country as a result of an extremely tight auction process three years ago.

The announcement from NSN also makes it clear that the technology of choice seems to be TD-LTE, an emerging standard that is supposed to have a better future than Wimax, the current 4G standard.

“The launch of commercial TD-LTE services later this year will offer Bharti Airtel subscribers in Maharashtra a much improved experience when using bandwidth-intensive applications, with more consistent network coverage and faster response times (low latency),” NSN said.

“As per industry estimates, mobile data traffic in the country will increase nearly 100-fold by 2015 and consumers will stream nearly 600 hours of video content – every second, thus paving way for the ensuing data revolution,” Sanjay Kapoor, CEO Bharti Airtel said.

The rapid strides in TD-LTE by India and China are helping drive its momentum, making it attractive for operators in other markets too, NSN claimed.