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Bharti Airtel to be first to launch 4G in India

Indian telco aims to deploy 4G services in Kolkata later this month with rollout in three other districts in the pipeline, report says.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

Indian telco Bharti Airtel is set to become the first operator in the country to launch 4G services, starting with Kolkata in April.

News daily The Hinduon Wednesday cited Bharti Airtel CEO Sanjay Kapoor as saying that the company would launch its Long-Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) network later this month, with China's ZTE as its network vendor partner for the Kolkata rollout.

It is also currently planning to launch 4G services in Pune in Maharashtra, Chandigarh in Punjab, and Bangalore in Karnataka--the three other districts that the telco has broadband spectrum licenses for, it added.

The Hindu, however, pointed out that the bigger launch would come from Reliance Industries, which is the only industry player awarded the pan-India spectrum for 4G services. Besides these two companies, the other winners of the broadband auction held in 2010 were Tikona Digital Networks, Aircel, Augere and Qualcomm. The newspaper noted that, so far, only Augere had awarded a contract to Ericsson and announced plans to launch services in the second half of this year.

According to a previous ZDNet Asia report, the introduction of 4G services is seen as a boost for the telecommunications industry as 3G services have not really taken off in India.

Separately, the Indian government is in the midst of resolving a spat with various telcos, after it decided in February to revoke all 122 2G licences awarded since 2008 on grounds of fraud during its allocation.

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