Aircel Ready for 4G Launch
Aircel is currently testing equipment and service configurations for the launch of fourth generation mobile communication technology 4G. The services could be launched in about six months, said K. Sankara Narayanan, Regional Business Head of Aircel for Rest of Tamil Nadu and Chennai.
Mr.Sankara Narayanan said that Aircel had got the licence for 4G services and had placed the orders for equipment.
He admitted that 4G was ‘definitely a step forward in technology’ giving the customers a ‘fantastic choice’. It would also give customers ‘incredible speed that does not exist in the market today.’ Highlighting the existing demand for 2G services even after the roll out of 3G services, he said 4G would co – exist with 2G and 3G. Because each segment had got its own users and each came at a differing cost and there would be demand for each segment.
Making it clear that the handsets in the market did not support 4G, he said it was not known whether the 4G handsets would support 2G and 3G services.
Mr. Sankara Narayanan said Aircel would like to focus on data services as there was tremendous scope for growth. For Aircel in the Rest of Tamil Nadu Circle, there were 26 lakh customers using data services out of the total subscriber base of 1.8 crore. In fact, the number of data users on mobile phones was growing at 100 per cent year on year, he added.
Aircel had 400 towers in Tamil Nadu and based on customer usage of data services, the numbers were being augmented. All the 6,200 towers in Rest of Tamil Nadu were 2G ready and plans were on to increase the number of 3G towers by another 400 in Rest of Tamil Nadu.
Aircel had to accelerate the growth of data segment since the modern handsets with a lot of data capabilities enabled the cellular phone users to access them and stay connected on all kinds of electronic platforms.
Terming the data usage as a ‘rage,’ Mr.Sankara Narayanan justified the same by stating that revenue growth on voice calls was only 10 per cent while in data usage, it was a whopping 100 per cent in a year in Rest of Tamil Nadu Circle. Aircel’s key strategy was data `because data is the future,’ he said.
Mr. Sankara Narayanan said another focus segment for the company would be the youth and it had launched services such as Pocket Internet Games aimed at this segment. On the issue of solution to text message traffic and termination charges to other operators leading to disconnection of the SMS service of a few operators by other operators and how successfully and permanently it had been resolved, Mr. Sankara Narayanan said the SMS issue was ‘not an Aircel issue, it was an industry issue.’ The issue was before the court and the court had issued an interim order based on which reconnection was done and the services were normal, he said.
He declined to comment on reports about the Malaysia-based promoter of Aircel, holding majority stake in Aircel, planning to sell part of the stake to Russia’s Sistema.
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