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The largest mobile telco in India in terms of customers and sales, Bharti Airtel, has requested government's consent for the company to test voice-over-4G network.
This is a phenomenal development since Infotel, owned by Reliance, had requested the Department of Telecommunications for the allotment of 10,000 numbers so as to test voice-over in the company's soon-to-be launched 4G network.
Infotel is the sole holder in India of a pan-India 4G license. Airtel follows close behind with an already launched 4G network and a license that allows the company's 4G network to be operated in four circles.
Airtel had recently purchased 49% stake in the 4G spectrum of Qualcomm which will facilitate Airtel to launch its services in 4G in the cities of Delhi and Mumbai. Airtel has already started data-based services in 4G in the cities of Bangalore, Pune and Kolkata. This has transformed the company into a major competitor for Infotel Broadband. Bharti's permit for 4G covers eight circles with it already launching operations in Pune, Bangalore and Kolkata.
At present, there are no operators in India which offers voice connection via 4G network. The regulations do not allow voice-based connections. The 2300MHz band does not offer the capability for such voice-based connections either. In USA and Europe, 700MHz bands are utilized to facilitate voice-based connection over 4G network.
Infotel has joined hands with Spirit, a Russian firm, in order to deliver data-based, voice-over services in 4G network. The company hopes to rock the mobile world just as it did about a decade ago when the company rolled out very low cost mobile devices. Meanwhile, Airtel is currently testing 3GPP standard for voice-based connections over 4G.