Infotel Broadband Services was the only company which had won BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) spectrum in all the 22 circles in India, in the recently held 3G / BWA auctions. Reliance acquired a 95% stake in Infotel Broadband for Rs. 4800 crores soon after the auctions.
Today, Reliance announced that it has chosen to use LTE (Long Term Evolution) for its BWA services across India, instead of the other option, WiMAX. Both LTE and WiMAX are 4G technologies which offer much better speeds than 3G. WiMAX offers speeds up to 40 Mbps while LTE offers speeds of 100 Mbps (downlink)/ 50 Mbps (uplink). LTE is backed by Qualcomm while WiMAX is backed by Intel.
LTE and WiMAX have been fiercely competing for marketshare across the globe. This move by Reliance tilts the scales in LTE’s favor. In the United States, both Sprint and Clearwire offer WiMAX services while Verizon is planning to launch LTE plans by the end of this year.
Launched in Bangalore on Thursday, Acer’s latest netbook, Aspire One532h, comes bundled with in-built Reliance Netconnect Broadband Plus which has a capability of offering high speed connectivity of up to 3.1 Mbps across 66 Indian cities. This device is really a must-have for those who work on the move. Acer has partnered with Reliance Communications to launch this netbook which comes embedded with wireless broadband.
The netbook is Priced at INR 19,499 and comes with two months of complimentary usage of integrated and in-built Reliance NetConnect Broadband Plus worth INR 2,198. The netbook has good hardware and is capable of running rich media applications like video conferencing, video streaming, electronic surveillance, online multi-player games and heavy file transfers.
India is a country where voice is given more importance than data communication over a cellular network. Although, this situation is changing now, but mobile broadband is limited to selected pockets in the country. On the other hand, service providers are more interested in owning bandwidth to release them under high costs which is not always affordable to people.
At a recent 4G auction, (which seems useless currently in itself has India is still not living in a 3G world) Infotel, a mobile broadband provider bought the largest share of 4G spectrum and won the bid for all 22 regions this bid was being placed. One factor that makes Infotel so much better than its competitor is that it has nationwide wireless broadband operations, possibly the largest; making it the de-facto ruler in this sector.
Others in this race, Aircel, Tikona Digital and Bharti, each got eight, four and four licenses respectively. Seeing this state, Mukesh Ambani who currently holds the Reliance Industries, is now proposing to buy Infotel for $1 billion and also agrees to pay the licensing fees. This desperate move will make Reliance Communication and Reliance Industries tough competitors in the mobile business once again.
What is expected of Reliance Industries now is that it understands the current #fail scenario and need of wireless broadband in India and tries to make it better.
Reliance is looking to make a big mark in the gaming industry as they have acquired UK based game developers Codemasters to be park of their gaming division Zapak. Codemasters which is one of the oldest British game developers have been seeing yearly revenues of $150 million, so this deal might have been a costly affair for Reliance.
With the 50% stake in Codemasters, Reliance gaming now puts a big foot forward in the International gaming arena. Zapak provides India users with an option to play some really nice oline games, including the popular sport in India, cricket.
On the other hand Codemasters are more into making games for consoles and PC including for the PS3, XBOX 360 and more. The marriage of Zapak and Codemasters would lead to Reliance releasing more affordable desktop games in the Indian market, which has a growing community of console gamers.
The financial details of the deal was not available, however, it could very well be much higher than half a million dollars.
Apple has not done well with their iPhone family of devices outside the United States, specially in India, where cheap devices from Nokia rule the roost. This is one of the reasons why Apple has not released iPhone 3GS in India yet.
However, according to some rumors from Fone Arena, the iPhone 3GS is most likely to make a debut in India on Monday, March 15th, 2010. The device may be available for pre-orders through Apple on 4 networks, including Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel and Reliance.
However, this is definitely a game ploy on part of Apple to offload devices to other areas where they have not been doing well, considering that the iPhone 4G will hit markets soon in the United States. iPhone 3GS has been in circulation for quite sometime now, and a late entry into India suggests my above thoughts.
To top it iPhone has had less than a lukewarm response in India, considering the high cost and lack of 3G, without which the iPhone is just another device.
Please note, this is not confirmed news and is rumored, so don’t set high expectations about this just yet, we will keep you posted when confirmed news becomes available to us.
Tikona Digital Networks launched its wireless broadband service in 10 cities in India, including Delhi. The internet service provider (ISP) plans to expand its network to 50 cities by the end of 2010. The speed offered is quite decent too — up to 2Mbps. Apart from that, users need not buy an extra device for the service, the company will offer it as a part of the package, which might work in advantage for the users. ISPs like Relaince, Tata Indicom and others force users to buy the device worth 3-4k INR to use their wireless service.
Mr Prakash Bajpai, Founder, MD & CEO, Tikona Digital Networks explains, The current broadband internet scenario is similar to what the mobile scenario was 10 years ago. India has just a little under 10 Mn Broadband while China has more than 120 Mn Broadband. China could reach this level as they had a large wireline plant of over 400 Mn lines. India has only 40 Mn and only a fraction of this is usable for Broadband. Wireless broadband is the only option for India to increase its Broadband base to levels that are similar to China’s. We envision a powerful broadband enabled India and believe that it is an imperative for an emerging IT and software superpower.^
We yet haven’t heard about the next 3G auction date. As a matter of fact, in a public poll many voters suggested that the government should drop the 3G auction and concentrate on bringing in the 4G technology in India, so by the next 2-3 years we could actually use 4G connection and we could cope up with the latest technology. And to think of it, by that time I am sure everyone would also be flaunting a 4G mobile device with them.
While we talk about 3G and 4G, Airtel has launched an interesting GPRS plan for prepaid customers. With a recharge of 98 INR you will now be able to get 2GB free data usage plan and with multiple recharge you can extend the limit in multiples of 2. To counter attack BSNL launched five new plans with an unlimited download plan. The coming week, I expect Vodafone, Aircel and others to join the flame. It’s always better to have options.
As if caller tune was enough irritating on wireless connections, Airtel wants to cash on its 2.9 million fixed line connections with similar service. Airtel has launched a new service called Family Namewhere you can set your Family Name as caller tune for Rs.15 one time download and Rs.30 monthly subscription. Thousands of standard’ family names are available and more would be added soon.
Last week, we saw some astonishing figures and statics. Indian operators collectively signing up 19.1 million new subscribers for wireless services in December 2009. This is the highest figure so far for new subscribers in a month. India’s mobile subscriber base now touches 525.15 million. So by March 10 we could definitely cross the predicted 529 million subscribers. With this we have achieved the overall tele-density of 47.89. Take a look at the Net addition of wireless connection in the month of December 2010 in percentage.
Apart from that, we saw the launch of three new handsets last week. RIM introduced Blackberry BOLD 9700 in the Indian market with the price tag of 31,990 INR. It will be available on Airtel, Aircel, BSNL, Idea Cellular, Loop Mobile, MTNL, Reliance, Tata and Vodafone. Acer introduced it’s first Android based phone: Acer Liquid. This touch screen handset is priced at 24,990 INR. Nokia, launched Nokia 5233 a cheaper version of it touch screen Nokia 5230, just without 3G. Nokia 5233 will be available for 7500 INR which is almost 1000 INR cheaper than Nokia 5230.
That’s all for this week. See you Next week and Enjoy the weekend.