We knew that Airtel has been working round the clock to bring the 4G LTE service to smartphones in India, and they’ve done just that. Airtel customers using the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will be able to switch to the ultra-fast 4G LTE starting today. The 4G LTE service for mobile will be available in Bangalore to start with, followed by other major Indian cities later this year.
Read our review of Airtel 4G LTE on iPhone 5s to get an idea about how it feels to use the fastest mobile broadband technology.
4G Speeds at 3G Prices
The best part is that users can choose any of the existing 3G data plans of Airtel, and experience the faster 4G LTE speeds on their iPhone 5s/5c. One would have to change their existing 3G SIMs to a 4G SIM to get the service which will be available at all Airtel stores across Bangalore.
The move to keep the 4G plans affordable should entice more and more users to try out the 4G LTE. It took a long time for Indians to embrace the 3G technology due to high costs involved, but this move from Airtel to provide 4G at 3G prices should help them push 4G tech much faster.
4G LTE on iPhone only
But there is one major factor involved here. The 4G LTE currently works with the latest Apple iPhones only – the iPhone 5s and 5c. This is because, except Apple, not many OEMs are including support for TD-LTE band (2300MHz) in their phones. Very few countries like India and China are having TD-LTE for consumer use, and hence SoCs aren’t too keen to support this band yet. There were some news about local OEMs like XOLO to bring affordable 4G phones to India, but that would still take a while.
Srini Gopalan, director of consumer business in Bharti Airtel India, said that:
“We expect more devices will soon come enabled for this band. China has just allocated 4G spectrum in the 2300 MHz band to its operators, so there should be a lot more manufacturing of such devices”
Airtel isn’t ready to specify the download/upload speeds on 4G LTE, but instead talks about the capabilities like high definition video streaming with zero buffering, download 10 movies in less than 30 minutes, upload full holiday albums in less than 5 minutes by uploading 2 high quality photos per second and connect multiple devices without any experience constraint. But of course, you can check our detailed review for speed tests.
Airtel’s new 4G LTE plan
In addition to the existing 3G plans, Airtel has introduced a new 4G LTE plan which gives customers 10 GB of 4G data for Rs.1000, which should appeal to a lot of power users. Existing 3G data plans include Rs.249 for 1GB, Rs.449 for 2.5GB and Rs.749 for 4GB. Also, it’s important to note that while data browsing will be on 4G network, voice calls will be routed on 2G/3G seamlessly with the CSFB (circuit switched fall back) technology.
To avail 4G LTE service, customers can visit their nearest Airtel store in Bangalore or can also SMS 4G to 53636 or call 121 or log on to www.airtel.in/4g-for-iphone for more details (link will go live later today).