Faster Internet, But Sibal Stresses Affordability At Launch
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Kolkata: Sixteen years after it ushered in the cellphone revolution in India, with chief minister Jyoti Basu making the first call to telecom minister Sukhram on July 31, 1995, Kolkata once again made telecom history on Tuesday by becoming the first Indian city to have a 4G link.
The service, an abbreviation for fourth generation wireless, was launched by Airtel, whose predecessor in the city, Modi Telstra, had launched the cellphone service from the city with Basu’s historic call. It wasn’t just the emotional factor that made the city an automatic choice for the 4G launch. A senior Airtel official said the 4G infrastructure in the city had been put in place before others by ZTE Corporation, China’s largest listed telecom equipment company roped in to plan, design, deploy and supply the 4G network in Kolkata. And in remarks that would show Bengal and its capital in positive light to the industry, Bharti Airtel chairman and managing director Sunil Bharti Mittal, who unveiled the service along with telecom minister Kapil Sibal, thanked the state government for fast clearances.
So, Kolkatans can now access ultra-fast broadband service that, according to experts, is expected to be five times as fast as 3G. But a 4G connection will not offer voice or text services (in other words, you cannot use it to make calls or send SMSs). The service is being provided through dongles, which will allow you to link up with computers, laptops and some tablets. A 4G network lets users download songs and stream movies much more quickly than with 3G or WiFi.
But as with the rest of the world, its success in India, too, will depend on affordability, a point Sibal emphasized, confessing the 3G story hadn’t been a successful one.
“Many people have forgotten that the first telephonic experience was executed by A J C Bose in Kolkata. Now the 4G launch in Kolkata adds to the glory,” said Suparno Moitra, regional manager (east), Nasscom.