Globally LTE is considered as the fastest growing wireless technology, and Indian mobile operators are also in LTE fever, as the spectrum they are receiving is technology agonist under unified license regime.
The latest name to join in LTE league is Sistema Shyam Teleservices which operates under MTS brand. SSTL recently secured its operations in 9 circles of India, which are accounted for 60% data market, 40% of total population in India and 75% of SSTL’s current revenue.
In a global press release Sistema said: ‘The spectrum in 8 circles is technologically neutral and is valid for 20 years. This provides an opportunity to strengthen SSTL’s data driven strategy through a possible LTE roll out in the future.’
Currently SSTL has 3 slots of 1.25MHz block in all of 9 circles. Earlier SSTL has 3.75 MHz spectrum in Rajasthan only, and 2.5 MHz in other circles. In Rajasthan circle SSTL rolled out world’s first EVDO Rev B phase II network using two slots of 1.25 MHz to offer upto 9.8 Mbps downlink.
Though I expected that MTS India would roll out of Rev B services (MTS Ultra) in other circles with recent winning of spectrum, but it seems MTS will cover more cities in these 9 circles with EVDO rev A with the rev A equipments from circles where it closed down services. And later MTS will go for LTE roll out.
Earlier Videocon, which has 5 MHz spectrum on 1800Mhz band in 6 circles of the country announced that the company will roll out LTE services by the end of 2013. Both MTS and Videocon will use LTE-FDD technology. But MTS will have coverage advantages as they are using 800MHz spectrum. In Germany LTE-FDD is deployed over 800MHz to cover the ‘white-spots’ with zero broadband coverage.
In 2010 when India sold 2300MHz band for 4G/BWA services, everyone thought that India will be a major hub after China for LTE-TDD technology. But recent Govt. policy towards spectrum & unified license help operators to think about LTE roll outs.
I would not be surprised if next operators annoucing LTE plans are Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices, as both have 800MHz spectrum in 22 circles and 19 circles respectively and in coming years they are going to renew it. Also Vodafone and Idea may also think about LTE roll out, as they bagged some amount of 1800MHz spectrum and worldwide LTE1800 accounts for more than 30% of commercial LTE roll outs.