Last week Russian business major Sistema's Indian telecom arm, Sistema Shyam Teleservices ( SSTL) has announced the roll out of 3GPLUS network across 9 circles where the company is operating.
While MTS is selling the EVDO Rev B phase II services under MBlaze Ultra branding, they are pushing the '3GPLUS' branding for the network. EVDO is actually 3rd generation technology for CDMA, but in India there was no auction for CDMA 3G airwaves.
3G was introduced in the country by CDMA players like Reliance Communications (Netconnect Broadband plus) and Tata Teleservices (Photon plus) over 800MHz band a long before GSM operators got 3G spectrum. But due to rules and regulations CDMA players could not market EVDO services as 3G.
Now as soon as data-focused-voice-enabled MTS got unified license, it started taking on GSM players with its 3GPLUS campaigning. MTS was offering Rev A (upto 3.1Mbit/s downlink) as MBlaze services on dongles, WiFi router and smartphones. MTS 3GPLUS network is powered by EVDO Rev B phase II technology, which is capable of delivering maximum 4.9Mbit/sec on one carrier of 1.25MHz spectrum. MTS has three channel carriers in all circles and keeping one carrier for voice, remaining two are used for data; that tells you the fact MBlaze Ultra supports upto 9.8Mbit/s downlink.
Well my point is 3GPLUS is a marketing gimmick used by MTS India. As they are saying it is more capable than 3G/HSPA+ services by GSM operators, but that's not actually true. Private 3G players deploy 7.2Mbps BTS at most places and there are several 21.1Mbps BTS to offer best bandwidth to their customers. HSPA+ is itself a 3.9G technology, and DC-HSPA with maximum 42Mbps is considered as 4G also.
Don't think that I am against MTS Rev B services, rather I am pointing out the truth and marketing terms. MTS Rev B services have better capacity, more speed than Rev A, best indoor coverage thanks to 800MHz band and superior outdoor coverage with less number of base stations. MTS also did its best - to upgrade its entire Rev A network into Rev B network in all 9 circles.
Even on tariff part MTS is offering almost same tariff of Rev A, that means if you buy an Ultra device you will more speed at almost same price.
But again compared to Reliance, Aircel, BSNL and Tata Docomo's regular data plans and other's sudden-offer data plans, Rev A and Rev B data plans from MTS are costly. In an interview to Telecomtalk MTS says they want serious data users that's why there is no new sim offer as offered by Reliance and Aircel (2GB limited or unlimited per month for 3 months for Rs 300-400).
But in India most high speed mobile data users are young people who never show loyality to any operator unless the operator offers cheap data plans continuously.
MTS on its official communication has also cited that there will be Rev B supported smartphones from them by the end of this year. But already there are Rev B supported smartphones in the country, all of them are imported, unlocked and with RUIM slot or without RUIM slot.
Here goes the old question: Why is MTS so reluctant to allow MEID registration on foreign handsets? It will help them to get more CDMA customers from other CDMA operators. Also when MTS will launch such devices in December, which is considered by the launch time of Reliance Jio's 4G data and voice services by most analysts. And if such MTag smartphones from MTS come with older Android versions and outdated low powered hardware from not-so-known OEMs it will help them to tap overwhelming growing data market on small screen ?
MTS is offering Ultra dongles for Rs 750 for postpaid MBlaze Rev A customers, while prepaid users have to buy a dongle at full price - Rs 1299 for the dongle (ZTE AC2792 or Huawei EC306) and Rs 100 for FRC ( Incl. 10GB data and 5GB Youtube usage for 30 days). While smartphones are preferred way to consume cellular internet, I doubt people would go for it. That 10GB can be offered in 2/4/5 months. Also if they consider postpaid customers assets they should not put second FUP of 64kbps, rather put the FUP at 256kbps over Rev B.
MTS has launched Rev B supported WiFi router too, which is great as they could bridge the gap between your existing smartphone and MTS India's superb 3GPLUS network. Also plans can be offered at regular price.
MTS 3GPLUS is a big jump by MTS but the post-launch campaigning is yet to catch the eyes of people. MTS these days, is having one of best social media presence as well. But MTS should look into making social media as a platform for customer feedback and complaint resolution. In a whole 3GPLUS from MTS India is a promising product for net-savvy people, but it's the operator who have to take it to the masses at affordable price with proper device ecosystem.