4G LTE (long-term evolution) is faster than THETHRILLSOFSPEED

Reliance Jio plans to launch services with LTE, a much faster technology than 3G networks

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(Tata, Reliance Communications) SOURCE: BERNSTEIN ANALYSIS

 

 

 

ing dramatically. The plague of dropped calls from key ser­vice providers is so rampant that Union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad went public on 3 April with this warning to operators: “As a minister, I am equally account­able to consumers. If the consumers of India are complain­ing there are a lot of call drops in case of private operators, they must take this as a caveat for consideration.”

On 23 April, Prasad told Hindu Business Line newspa­per: “I have got a lot of letters from MPs and customers about call drops in the last few days, and to address such grievances, I have asked my secretary to call all telecom players to discuss the issue.” In a written note to the Rajya Sabha, the minister noted that several private operators including Vodafone and Aircel were not meeting the benchmarks set by the government on quality of service.

Quality of service is poor for any operator, which has not invested adequately in infrastructure. Setting up new towers in cities is becoming costlier and residents oppose them for fear of radio wave emissions. A minefield of cor­rupt local authorities makes it virtually impossible to lay fibre in cities. There is civil resistance as well, as seen in Mumbai and several other cities, where activists have pro­tested against Reliance Jio erecting towers in precious
open spaces and gardens. It is against this backdrop that Jio is setting up its network with a delay of four years stemming from difficulties in building and setting up the infrastructure required.

Laying The Ground

A 4G network requires a backhaul infrastructure of fibre optics so that every base station is connected to the back­bone. Ashwani Khillan, former chief technology officer at Shyam Sistema Teleservices and now with American Tow­ers, says: “Every network is difficult. The 4G network is much more complex than existing networks as it takes time to configure and roll out.” In India, telecom opera­tors, don’t have fibre optic backbones connecting all their towers, but they do not need to as a majority of the towers are still on second generation networks. Jio officials claim that they have laid more than 1 lakh kilometres of fibre.

Initially, Jio was supposed to adopt an asset-light mode and lease towers from infrastructure providers and quickly roll out its services. But, now Jio has opted for a hybrid model in which, besides leasing towers, it has buil its own network of towers {Maximum Network). To do this, it has developed a unique tower built for Indian con

Jio’s GBM design integrates a lithium-ion battery as a back-up inside the towers itself. The design was presented at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. It also takes much less space and offers better coverage. The tower can be set up on 4 square metres and connected by fibre. According to Jio officials, the competition did not make it easy for them to get access to towers, which had fi­bre connectivity. “Even in places that had towers with fi­bre connectivity, there were more than six operators on it. So we had to install our own towers in key high-density traffic areas,” says a Jio official.

ditions: a ground-based mast (GBM) tower design with­out back-up diesel generators. Incidentally, telecom is the third largest consumer of diesel in the country, thanks to a patchy power scenario.

“LTE operators have to deploy VoLTE as voice will remain ubiquitous and help save costs”

SANDEEP GIROTRA

India head, Nokia Networks
Airtel is the only operator among

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