Handset makers are set to flood the Indian market with their 4G devices starting from Rs10,000 and touching up to Rs50,000. So far, only Bharti Airtel offers 4G LTE network and that too in select cities. Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm which is making its foray in the telecom industry with 4G is expected to launch its services by the end of 2014.
"We have an ongoing 4G portfolio in China. Thus, we are completely equipped for a launch in India too," Gionee India head Arvind R Vohra told."Once the volume starts picking up, there will not be much difference between the pricing of 3G and 4G devices... it will be minimalistic." Gionee is a fresh entrant into the handset market in India.
Domestic handset manufacturer Micromax is not only talking about handsets and tablets, but also about installing equipment where the customer resides. These equipment may consist of an antenna placed on the roof of a customer's house. It will enable the customer to function all his 4G devices with one connectivity - whether it's a smart TV, tablet or handset – just like Wi-Fi. However, Vikas Jain, co-founder, Micromax, told dna that the company is waiting for more stable and widespread connectivity before launching their devices.
The bandwidths which facilitate 4G services are also a matter of concern. "Initially, we were preparing our devices on the 2300 MHz band. Now with the latest spectrum auction, we have to work around the 1800 MHz band for 4G. So there is a little speculation and uncertainty in terms of the network bands available for 4G," Jain said. He added that Micromax would launch 4G devices on which customers can fall back on 2G and 3G networks in areas where there are gaps.
Jain said the company may sell a phone bundled with an operator's data service. However, the customer will have the option of choosing another operator too. Micromax plans to launch phones in the range of Rs10,000-Rs15,000.
LG Mobile's marketing head Amit Gujral said the company is totally committed for the India story for 4G. "We were the first to bring a G2 device with 4G. The moment India is ready, we will have a a plethora of devices... the prices will obviously follow the market," he said. LG is also working with all leading operators, including, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Idea Cellular, to check the possibilities of a better device eco-system. Last month, the company launched a high-end 4G device costing Rs46,000.
Another leading handset manufacturer, Nokia, which announced a few high-end 4G devices earlier this year, said affordable smartphones are certainly vital to achieve that level of growth. "We are committed to work collaboratively with the industry to ensure the availability of smartphones across price points in the Indian market," Vipul Mehrotra, head of smart devices, Nokia IMEA, a subsidiary of Microsoft Mobile Oy.
"Given the increasing uptake of smartphones in India, consumers are demanding internet connectivity round-the-clock and India is going to see a mobile data storm. 4G will enhance consumer experience and the technology will play an important role in the expansion of mobile broadband in the country."
According to sector experts, the vendors do not want to repeat the mistake which happened during the launch of 3G devices. So even if they are apprehensive of a pan-India roll out, they are working on the devices in advance. 4G network allows users to enjoy five times faster browsing speed than the existing 3G speed. It would facilitate high-definition video streaming with zero buffering, video calling and high-resolution gaming among a host of other services.
While these devices would enable data browsing on 4G network, voice calls will be routed through 3G and 2G networks.
A report by global telecom body GSMA said 4G-LTE connections across the world is likely to pass one billion by 2017. Of this, the Asian market will account for over 47 per cent of all 4G connections, driven mainly by India and China. Another report by Frost & Sullivan said that LTE revenues in India will reach $11.88 billion in 2017 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 220.5 per cent in the 2012-2017 period.