The company may have bought 4G spectrum in 8 states in February, but for the next two-three years, Idea Cellular believes India will not prove to be a successful ground for the launch of 4G services.
The biggest problem, said Himanshu Kapania today, would be that of cost. Indians will simply not be able to lead the adoption a new technology like 4G LTE because technology pioneers have to often pay a premium for early adoption. This, Kapania said, is not likely in a country like India. He pointed out that even now, 3G adoption is still in the 12% range in India.
“With India’s per-capita income, we cannot afford expensive LTE, both in terms of equipment cost and handsets. It is only when the adoption around the world reaches billions of customers, when the overall ecosystem becomes far more favorable in terms of equipment supply as well devices that LTE should be launched. It is premature to look at 700 MHz at this time. It is up to the government of India to finish the unfinished task of issuing 3G spectrum to private operators,” he said.
“Customers are not ready for it… World wide, in countries like US, Japan and Korea, where 4G has been launched, there 3G penetration had crossed 50% of 2G,” he added.
It may be noted that Reliance Jio Infocomm is in the process of launching 4G LTE services in India in tie-up with Samsung Electronics and other partners who are providing it with equipment such as data dongles.
Reliance Jio is expected to launch services on 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz spectrum next year. Idea, Vodafone and Bharti also have LTE spectrum in 1800 band, and at least two of the three are expected to launch 4G services in India next year.