Closely after Mukesh Ambani's declaration of launch dates of 4G by Reliance Jio comes another declaration from Vodafone India's chief technology officer Vishant Vora stating that Vodafone will be starting its 4G trials in the second half of 2014 in the five circles where it won spectrum in 1800MHz band in the February auctions. Vodafone had won 5MHz or more in the 1800MHz band in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Karnataka and Kerala circles in February. Vodafone will be launching FD-LTE on the 1800MHz band once the device eco system becomes more mature for LTE in India.
Vora said that 30,000 of the total 1,00,000 cell base stations had been upgraded over the past three years and are now 4G ready which will make it easy for LTE roll out by the company. Vodafone India is adding 3G wireless points at a rate to 1,000 a month, primarily in metro cities, Vora said. Nearly 60% of Vodafone's 23,000 3G sites are currently in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. Vodafone will require to add capacity quickly in Mumbai, where it won 11 MHz of spectrum in the more efficient 900 MHz band in February as reported by ET.
Vodafone on Monday inaugurated a Super network operation centre at which it monitors performance and maintenance for all its network to ensure optimal uptime. The new center in Pune is designed to flag any issues including slowing of speeds within the network before customer complaints come in.
It is clear from this that Vodafone India does not want to miss the 4G bus after Bharti AirTel and Reliance Jio having drawn out big road maps for LTE in India and other operators like Aircel, Tikona and Videocon gearing up for the same. Idea cellular has also shown interest in launching FD-LTE on its newly won spectrum in the future. It is going to be a game of wait and watch for the end users. But it will take a few more years for LTE to become mainstream in India.
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