It seems Reliance Industries owned Infotel Broadband has told the reason why they are not bidding for upcoming 2G spectrum. In a latest report RIL Infotel has asked Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to allocate mobile numbers as the company is ready to run trials of voice services on their yet-to-be-launched LTE-TDD network.
Infotel is the pan India BWA spectrum winner, and is going to be biggest competitor to Bharti Airtel in coming days. Bharti, following the acquisition of Qualcomm has BWA spectrum in 8 circles. But data market in India is still not so mature, 20% or less of revenue comes from data services for most of the mobile operators. So Infotel’s entry into voice market is unavoidable.
Analysts expected that RIL may bid for 2G spectrum to enter voice market, now as they did not it is strongly believed that RIL may be backing Videocon Industries who is bidding for both GSM (1800MHz) and CDMA (800MHz) spectrum.
Regarding Videocon’s plan to bid for CDMA spectrum, these circles can be category C type as 800MHz can provide more coverage while top circles will be bidded against 1800MHz band – this band is to be used for 2G services as well as LTE can deployed also. Globally more than 30% of commercial LTE roll out is happening on 1800MHz band.
Now to roll out VoLTE Reliance Infotel has 3 major difficulties.
1. To Ensure Mobility
Infotel has spectrum on 2300MHz. To be a top voice player first think they have to ensure that is blanket coverage. Currently 3G on 2100MHz is quite scarce and available in clusters. Infotel has to deploy extensive conventional base stations and wide spread small cells to match up 2G coverage for basic voice calls.
4G which We earlier told to provide last mile connectivity and will be more like a wireless but fixed broadband services (remember Airtel’s 4G LTE Router). With Infotel’s big plan a heat will be for BSNL – leader in fixed broadband market.
2. Technical Limitation
Globally voice services on LTE network are planned to be given by Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB), where the voice calls are to be routed to 2G/3G networks. It is expected Airtel’s newly launched Huawei-made LTE smartphone will work this way.
But Infotel does not have any 2G/3G spectrum, so CSFB is not for them unless they tie up with a mobile operator.
3. Devices – Why People Buy a New Device?
Even if Infotel launched VoLTE and offer dirt cheap voice and data tariff, people have to buy a new device. Infotel is using LTE-TDD which is not so mature compared to LTE-FDD. So device ecosystem is yet to be developed, as a result price will be high. I am eagerly waiting to see RIL’s strategy to manage affordable LTE-TDD devices. Will Infotel be pioneer in LTE-TDD?
Now RIL is keeping its plans for Infotel venture very secret, and that’s why so much speculation. But I believe there is something good is coming.