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India telcos planning to shift data traffic to Wi-Fi

Indian mobile phone companies including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and others looking to shift part of their data services to Wi-Fi hotspots, to free up scarce 2G and 3G spectrum for mobile telephony, report states.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

Indian mobile phone companies such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and others are looking to shift a part of their data services to Wi-Fi hotspots, freeing up scarce 2G and 3G airwaves for mobile telephony, according to a report.

In a report Thursday, The Economic Times (ET)
noted that telcos were building these hotspots to accommodate growing mobile broadband data usage among consumers.

"Spectrum is limited and all over the world carriers have offloaded data on to Wi-Fi, integrating it with existing networks while the backhaul can be any medium--copper, fiber or LTE. It's pretty much part of the plan for us as well," said K Srinivas, Bharti Airtel's president for consumer business, in the article.

ET noted that Bharti Airtel has already set up more than 1,000 hot spots in three cities across India where data consumption is very high, apportioning a greater proportion of its licensed spectrum for handling voice traffic.

Accorinding to the news daily, a senior executive at Idea Cellular concurred that most telecom operators were considering extensive Wi-Fi hotspot deployments since existing spectrum was exhausted by its current voice and data traffic. "Given the scarcity of spectrum, it is an option everyone is looking at," this executive said.

Jaideep Ghosh, partner at KPMG India, in the article noted: "Wi-Fi offloading is definitely a trend that is catching up. Wi-Fi customers will be in public areas, at home, or in enterprises and considering that there are existing issues on pricing of spectrum and low uptake of data so far, so wireless makes good sense. There's definitely money to be made there."

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