Bharti Airtel is all set to pip Rel Jio and be first off the block with its 4G services in Delhi and Mumbai, having secured clearances to launch in 11 more cities, according to sources in Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
While the Bharti Airtel spokesperson declined to comment, officials in DoT said, “If they (Airtel) start finalising launch today, the service can be launched by next month, since testing has been completed and approved from our side in Delhi, Mumbai and a few southern cities.”
Airtel is already offering 4G in 19 cities, and its push into the two most important metros could force Reliance Jio to accelerate its own launch. As things stand, Reliance’s services are due to begin countrywide in the third quarter of the financial year.
“It is ‘acche din’ for telecom consumers, if the quality of service is what 4G promises to be,” said N.K Goyal, analyst with CMAI, a body of telecom companies.
Reliance said in its recent annual report that it would use LTE (4G) technology for countrywide voice and data connectivity along with ‘related digital services’ to its customers.
A 4G speed test done by HT in the city of Chandigarh a few months ago led to some interesting experience--A 250-page Harry Potter PDF book was downloaded in just 0.1 seconds. The 2-hour-26-minute movie 'Barfi ' was ready for viewing in 9 minutes and 30 seconds, and the audio format of the popular Punjabi song "Sadi gali ajaa" (4 minutes and 27 seconds) was downloaded in 2.5 seconds.
Airtel is likely to ride on popularity of MI phones from Chinese phone maker Xiaomi, priced at Rs. 9,999, say Airtel insiders. The Chinese handset has had major acceptance where 4G services are being offered, challenging the traditional players like Apple and Samsung both in price and performance.