Videocon is planning to roll out its 4G LTE services by end of this financial year across six circles. In an interaction with TelecomTiger, Arvind Bali, Videocon Mobile Services director and CEO discussed the roll- out plan, potential of LTE 4G, in India, investment for this and other related issues. Excerpts from his interview:
Q. What is the potential you feel that exists for LTE 4G in India?
A. As per various studies done by consulting firms and leading research firms, data subscriptions are likely to grow from existing 20 Mn to over 120 Mn by 2015 and in terms of monetary value, the mobile broadband revenue is likely to grow on a CAGR of 108%. In terms of data growth, from current 180 Peta Bytes data (2012), the projections suggests a 10 times growth to approx 1800 Peta bytes in 2015. If we look at the smart phone penetration, its growing really fast, by 2015 approx 16% of the total phones in India will be smart phones, and will be the catalyst for data growth in India. So the potential is huge and obviously untapped.
Q. When does Videocon Mobile Services plan to rollout 4G LTE and where all?
A. We plan to start rolling out our 4G LTE services by end of this financial year, however in a phased manner. We will be rolling out city by city based on the potential across our 6 circles where we have liberalized license.
Q. What is the kind of investment you are looking at for 4G rollout?
A. As we speak, we are in advance stage of discussion with Nokia Siemens Network for deployment of 4G LTE. Nokia Siemens Network is already our partners for 2G Network equipment and managed services partner. Coming to the investment bit, we are looking at a one of its own kind of 4G LTE Network deployment which is the LTE ‘Narrowband’ deployment’. NSN technical team is working on the commercials involved and is likely to give us their final recommendation within a month. I’d be able to comment on the investments once I have the white paper on the same, but as a ball park figure, it will run into approx xx Mn for covering a city of say yy sq km.
Q. How much spectrum does Videocon has and how will Videocon rollout 4G with the given spectrum?
A. That’s a very important and interesting question, LTE 4G FDD technology with a 5Mhz spectrum is capable of delivering a speed of as high as 42 Mbps, with an average speed of 8Mbps. Now, we have a total spectrum of 5 Mhz across our circles, and we obviously will not be able to dedicate the entire bandwidth to LTE. This is where the technological advancement of ‘Narrowband’ comes into picture, which is capable of delivering download speeds of upto 9Mbps on a 1.4 Mhz spectrum. We’d pioneer this technological advancement in India & plan to dedicate 1.4 Mhz spectrum to 4G LTE rollout and using the narrow delivering speeds as high as 9Mbps to our customers. We are confident that we will not only pioneer the narrowband 4G in India, but also set standard for others to follow.
Q. You talked about launching LTE services on the 1800MHz band. Do you see that as a differentiator for Videocon?
A. The current 4G LTE deployment in India is on 2300 Mhz, and is based on TDD technology, which could be a challenge given device ecosyemt constraint. Worldwide, approx 42% of the LTE deployment is done on 1800 Mhz band, which itself is an advantage since the equipment and device Ecosystem is growing fast for the given band. Further, today many of the smart phones incl Apple and Samsung are 4G complaint which shall give us a ready addressable base. So we will have an edge over other as the data market worldwide evolves.
Also, point worth mentioning is that most of the operators in India have spectrum in 900 MHz or 1800MHz band with Videocon also falling in 1800MHz band. This would have an absolute price advantage for Videocon, as for launching LTE services we can go ahead with our existing network footprint and share network footprint from other operators due to same band. Resultant would be network and hardware cost to be bare minimum.