3G Mobile Service : The Next Chapter in India’s “Telecom Growth Story” ?

“Network not available”: anyone who has tried to make a call over a mobile phone in Metros (Mumbai, Delhi, or Bangalore) dreads those chilling words. As India’s mobile market has exploded in recent years to more than 170 million users, and as seven mobile operators compete for that growing customer base, spectrum space has gotten tighter and quality of service has diminished.

As a possible solution, last year the TRAI began looking into Third Generation, or “3G”, mobile services in India.

What is 3G ?

3G, or ‘Third Generation’ is the generic term used for the next generation of mobile communications systems. The new systems will enhance the services available today and offer multimedia and internet access and ability to view video footage. 3G technologies enable network operators to offer user a wide range of more advanced services while achieving greater network capacity through improved spectral efficiency.

Who is TRAI?

The Acronym TRAI stands for Telecom Regulator Authority of India. It was formed in 1997. The independent regulator established by Government of India, to regulate the telecommunications business in India.

Mission of TRAI:

  • To ensure that the interests of consumers are protected.
  • To nurture conditions for growth of Telecommunications, Broadcasting and Cable Services.

Some of its Key Responsibilities:

Make recommendations on the following matters –

  • Need and timing of introduction of new Service Provider.
  • Terms and conditions of license to Service Provider.
  • Technological improvements in the services by Service Provider
  • Efficient management of available spectrum.

How will 3G improve my mobile experience?

With a 3G enabled phone and access to the 3G network, one can

  • Send and receive video calls
  • Watch live TV
  • Access the internet
  • Receive e-mails
  • Download music tracks
  • Have basic features of voice calls and messaging services
  • Music and streaming video

Numerous applications in various domains like entertainment, work, media, shopping, education, health etc will be possible, giving customers a whole new world of experience.

How fast exactly is 3G?

Well, this is little dicey to answer.

The data speed of 3G is determined based on a combination of various factors including :

  • Chip rate
  • Channel structure
  • Power control
  • Number of users in a cell
  • Distance of user from cell
  • User is moving or stationary
  • Synchronization

There is no clear definition of the speeds users can expect from 3G equipment or providers. Thus  customer using the 3G service may not be able to point to a standard and say that the speed it specifies are not being met.

However, It is expected that it provides min speed of 2 Mbits/sec* for stationary or walking users and 348 Kbits/sec* for moving vehicle.

Will 3G in India be as fast as other countries or will it suck like the so-called broadband we have?

This can be answered only when we have the services roll out by various Service Providers in near future. However, this can be tested from the pilot launch done by BSNL for its employees in Pune**, followed by MTNL in Delhi very soon.

If all is good, why are they delaying it?

3G services are delayed because of the spectrum issues, licensing issues and auction process. There is still not enough clarity on the policy front and there are lot of questions. Once the answers are available, then only we can ensure smooth roll out of services.

When will we have it in India?

We can expect 3G services in India from Private operators by April 2009, all depends on the completion of auction process. State owned operators may roll out by December 2008.

What is the difference between WiMAX and 3G?

3G scores for voice; WiMax may lead to increased broadband penetration. WiMax or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access is a technology that enables wireless transmission of data over long distances. It offers 10-30 times faster data download speed than 3G.

How much does the 3G & WiMAX license cost?

3G: Up to 10 players, including foreign companies, will be allowed to operate in service area. A base price of Rs 2,020 crore for each bid for a pan-India license has been set. Initially there will be 3-5 operators, including MTNL & BSNL, to sell 3G services.

WiMAX: The spectrum reserve price shall be 25% of the of the 3G reserve price. Reserve price for pan-India broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum, popularly known as WiMAX.

The 3G services are expected to cost 20 to 30 per cent more than the costs of prevailing GPRS or EDGE services that provide 144 kbps wireless connectivity.

* – Kbps (kilobits per second) & Mbps (Megabits per second) are the units of data transfer, and are network dependent. 1 Megabit = 1024 Kilobits.

**[Source: Business Standard]

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15 Responses to this post

  1. 3G Mobile Service : The Next Chapter in India’s “Telecom Growth … : businessuu says:

    […] Original Dhruv […]

  2. vivek says:

    NIce and quick one there . Lets have one detailing (a bit) into the hardcore communication theories sometime later – It'll be a left-hand-game for the dsp master !

  3. anurag says:

    It will better if we include some technical aspect of 3G – How its faster, How it provides more reliability or its function otherwise article is nice, here we can get answer of most of general questions.

  4. Bandan says:

    Hi Dhruv,

    That's a good insight into the state of 3G in India. I would like to bring to your attention that 1 Megabit = 1024 Kilobits (not 1000, I assume it was a typo).


  5. Setu says:


    Thanks for the tip. The post has been updated.

  6. Anuja says:

    Hi Dhruv

    In layman's language, good overview about 3G.

    Hope that by Apr 2009, the senerio for 3G will be more clear for Mobile Operator as well as Users.

  7. Shelly says:

    Hi Dhruv,

    The article is incredibly informative. It provides a good insight into the state of 3G in India. The ease with which the information flows makes it very interesting.

  8. Arun says:

    Good yar…very informative…but i think Indian Government will be very slow on 3G as Turtles

  9. Sachin Sharma says:

    Nice artical, short and very clear .meet objective.

  10. Kul Bhushan Sharma says:

    Good crisp informative material…Expecting about the convergence topic from you..

  11. vimal says:

    hi dude ,

    the information provided by u is awsome and useful. keep updating this topic

    good luck

  12. Abhsihek Kalia says:

    The Piece of information about 3G Technology was very informative & provides good knowledge about the vision of this upcoming Technology in India.

  13. AZAHAR DEEN.H says:

    I need more info about 3G technology.

    if u read this msg plz send 3G related web address.

    Thank u


  14. AZAHAR DEEN.H says:

    my id " hmta@ymail.com "

  15. Manasi says:

    Thanks Dhruv.That was short but still very informative.

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