The infrastructure available in a country plays a key role in its growth and success story. India's robust rail network helped the country move goods and people around thereby enabling better reach. Similarly, the 2G network helped the mobile industry. It wasn't just the service providers but the feature-phone segment that benefited and was at par with the leading world countries. When it came to 3G, India missed the bus. As the West prepared for 4G, Indian operators rolled out 3G. While the price points are competitive in comparison to the West, the lack of super-smartphone penetration and limited availability has restricted adoption. The high prices carriers paid for the spectrum and the legal troubles regarding spectrum sharing for 3G on roaming has led to India's Telecommunications Minister calling 3G a failure.
Having missed the Western 3G wave, service providers were in no mood to wait for 3G returns and then move on to 4G. Back in January 2011, I wrote about Qualcomm and Reliance setting up their 4G infrastructure. However, Airtel beat them to bringing 4G to the masses; started in Kolkata with their 4G LTE MiFi devices, the service will soon expand to other regions and then to mobile phones. According to reports, Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Infotel will be setting up 100,000 cell towers for 4G across India. The company has spectrum license pan-India and this will be Mukesh Ambani's re-entry into mobile telephony. The decision to setup their own infrastructure doesn't go well for his brother's Reliance Infratel. (The brothers split, there was a non-compete between them, it was then annulled letting Mukesh Ambani re-enter the market.) Politics aside, the infrastructure Mukesh Ambani is planning on developing will go a long way in 4G's adoption in India.
The other telecom player making major investments in 4G is Tikona Digital. The company is expected to launch 4G LTE in October of this year. Preparing for their launch, Tikona will invest 1,000 Crore INR (~$193 Million) in infrastructure development. Tikona has spectrum in 5 cities Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East & West,) Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.