4G LTE is slowly but steadily gaining ground in India and several telecom operators are expected to roll out there 4G LTE services in India by next year. 4G LTE is still in its nascent stages, but is shaping up to be a meaningful consumer requirement in near future. Let us take a look at what 4G LTE is and what is the current scenario in India.

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What is 4G, LTE and the difference between 4G and LTE

4G where G stands for ‘Generation’ was developed by 3rd generation partnership project (3GPP) aiming at providing up to 10 X speeds of 3G networks. 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) is one of the several competing 4G standards (some other being with Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) and WiMax).

4G LTE band 40, 2300 MHz (TDD-LTE) is the LTE bandwidth that is available in India as of now and that is what Airtel is offering in India. Indian government has also auctioned 1800 MHz (FDD-LTE) spectrum, but no operator is offering that till date.

3G VS 4G LTE

The difference is in Speed. While 3G networks are supposed to offer anything between 3 Mbps to about 21 Mbps, but in practical use, the download speeds are much lower. in India, TRAI wants to set minimum 1 Mbps download speed for 3G which in itself speaks about its dismal scenario. While Airtel 4G LTE in India is able to deliver what 3G theoretically promises in practice.

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You can get up to 21 Mbps download and 11-12 Mbps upload speed, but high speed also means you will run out of data limit very soon. Since all 4G Data plans come with a cap, you will be stuck with 128 kbps after exhausting your data limit. Speeds vary in a vast range 3 Mbps – 29 Mbps according to credible buzz on the internet. Airtel claims 5 times increase over 3G from its LTE network. Theoretical numbers will however point to sky high speeds which aren’t practically realized in India yet.

What is the Difference Between TD LTE and FD LTE? Which one is better?

Radio communications occur in both directions. This is referred as Duplex Scheme and this two way communication can take place in two possible ways – Time division Duplex (TDD) and Frequency Division Duplex (FDD), thus giving two type of LTE standards.

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Time Division Duplex LTE (TDD LTE) or simply Time Division LTE (TD LTE) transmit and receives on the same bandwidth , but alternatively. Thus transmission and reception is on the same bandwidth with a time gap. This type of duplexing requires less hardware cost (for telecoms) and you can use more bandwidth for both downloading and uploading. Disadvantages include Guard period required to ensure uplink and downlink don’t clash and discontinuous transmission.

Frequency Division Duplexing or simply frequency Division LTE (FDD LTE/ FD LTE) splits bandwidth to transmit uplink and downlink, with a guard band in between. This theoretically leads to less interference and better reception. Main disadvantage is more bandwidth required.

On the whole, adding all factors, it’s hard to pick one of the two as a better option over others. In India FD LTE will arrive by next year or perhaps even later. With 4G scenario fully messed up with different players providing varying speeds depending on a number of factors, you can’t pick one of the two as better option. Having said that, it will cost less to deploy 4G on 1800 MHz FDD LTE bands as compared to 2300 MHz TDD LTE band (1800 MHz band is already in use for 2G, etc), from operators point of view, so we can expect more competition and options for FDD LTE in future.

4G LTE in India. Which 4G LTE Phone should you buy?

In India Airtel was the first operator to Introduce 4G LTE in India. Airtel 4G LTE works on 2300 MHz TD-LTE and is operational in around 15 cities. Aircel is the second Indian Telecom Operator to launch 4G LTE on the same 2300 MHz TDD-LTE spectrum.

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Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd is expected to start 4G LTE services on both 2300 MHz TD LTE and 1800 MHz FD LTE (14 circles)in India. Vodafone will also soon begin 1800 MHz FD LTE 4G LTE in India this year. Reliance Jio is the only company who has successfully acquired 4G LTE spectrum in entire India.

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Before you buy a 4G Enabled smartphone, you should check what band it supports to know if it will work in your area. Phones like HTC One M8 support FD LTE 1800 MHz 4G LTE and won’t support 4G till we see FD LTE in India by next year. Some popular phones which support 4G LTE in India today (must support 2300 MHz TD LTE band) include LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Alpha, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, LG F70, etc. Dual Mode LTE phones which support both TD LTE and FD LTE are also available in Global markets.

Benefits of 4G LTE advanced (LTE-A)

LTE Advanced or Cat 6 LTE can be considered a future roadmap for 4G LTE, which we won’t be seeing at its full potential any time soon. LTE Advanced will theoretically give up to 300 Mbps download speed (as compared to 150 Mbps in Cat 4 LTE) which is about 10 times more than peak LTE speed which practically reaches user end. You will need a handset which supports Cat 6 LTE (Huawei Honor 6, Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE- A) apart from a telecom operator which provides the same. Neither is readily available and It should take some long time before we see such high data speeds in India.

Conclusion

With Most data users still using 2G, 4G will take some time to hold its ground in India. The main challenge will be to work out economical plans, affordable and appealing to Indian Youth. 4G LTE still has a long way to go and it will still take time for operators to provide heavenly Internet speeds at right prices. With Internet and Data boom around the corner, this should happen sooner rather than later.

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The Author spent a significant chunk of his formative years resisting technology. He now keeps an eye on where the world is heading to, and drives a passive pleasure from this indulgence. His passion to write, learn and improve drives him each day. When his day ends, he enjoys the pleasant languor and detoxifies with family. You can connect with him on and Twitter

23 COMMENTS

  1. I’m wondering why you haven’t mentioned iPhone 6/6+ since they do support TD-LTE. The models (A1586 for 6, A1524 for 6+) which are out in Indian market and are supporting both FD-LTE and TD-LTE. In case you happened to miss out the inputs from iPhone 6/6+. Correct me if i’m wrong. Though I was initially interested in getting iphone 6/6+ from US, dropped out because the Factory Unlocked versions (US T-mobil model A1549(GSM/CDMA)) are not supporting the Indian Band of LTE. So I was wondering if it would be viable and workout buying from there since there is no support of 4G in that unlocked version as per my understanding. Please correct me if my perception of it is wrong.

    • your perception is correct. iPhone 6 / 6+ wasn’t launched in India at the time of writing this, thus they haven’t been mentioned

      • would be nice if you can write up on iphone 6/+ for the benefit of the readers who are mostly confused with so many operators out there and nobody to guide properly. Even I had difficulty despite checking out with authorised Apple retailers (Reliance), premium resellers (aptronics). even they are not sure of the models and their full potential. All this came up as I was planning on getting from US and so many questions started arising about the support of frequencies, 4G/LTE, models etc. and I was wondering whether to buy 6/+ either in India or US as the price is more economical buying in states. So i’d reiterate it would be nice if you write an article for the benefit of the readers. Incase if you need any help from my end would be more than happy to help.

  2. Redmi note 4g has bands G: LTE (FDD) – Band 3, LTE (TD) – Band 40, 2300, just want to reconfirm if mobiles having this bandwidh will work better in India?

  3. Thanks Deepak for this wonderful write-up. I have a question around the frequency, when I got my 4G simcard working on my Oneplus ONE phone yesterday they said it available on for specific handsets in Iphones and they in talks with Samsung also for specific models to launch 4G apart from the Redmi NOte 4g which is co-branded and sold at Airtel outlets. From you write-up I also understand that Airtel 4G works in a 2300 Mhz Frequency.

    Because when I told my oneplus ONE phone supports 2300 mhz the immediate response I got from that executive was that you should be getting the LTE symbol and signals on your phone but not speed, you will be using a 4G simcard but browsing speed will be only at 3G levels.

    Now my question is:-
    1. If I have a device which supports 2300 mhz it should work right ? It does not necessarily have to be Apple IOS devices or Samsung Devices right ?
    2. what is this theory behind getting 4G signals but browsing speed at 3G level ?

    I understand if 4G signals are not available it downgrades to 3G…2G but this was something different he said.

    • 4G should work on your device. I will look into it and let you know. what is your location? have you tried to manually enter APN settings?

    • You must talk to Airtel first to know if they will support it in your area. Its a good device, but i am not particularly impressed by software (more of a matter of taste).

  4. Hi Deepak… thanks for the Nice information…

    PLs help me.. I m plan to buy a Smartphone upto 15k
    The only option i find is Micromax Canvas Selfie…

    But I have some questions about it, which no one is answering

    ->Pls tell me does it play or support AVI., MP4., MKV. or FHD video with Audio and a DTS Audio TOO..
    Does it support OTG and TV Output
    ->and What’s the Weight of the Device??

    PLs tell me any other option which u think fit for me.
    My Requirements— Budget 15-16k , Good both cameras, Tru Octacore Processor, 2GB Ram, 5″ FHD or HD Display with crispy Brightness and Clarity, good battery backup to pass a full day, good gpu to handle ant any game, play almost all HD/FHD Videos or movies (with their Audio.. hahahaa)
    I’m a gamer, not a daily heavy gamer. i m a avg. User

  5. Hi deepak, I’m planning to buy Note 3 (N9005) from Kuwait. Will it support 4G LTE in INDIA. As per its specification it supports LTE 800/850/900/1800/2600. So, will it support 2300 MHZ band in India. Also, i heard that soon RJIO is going to launch 4G services on 1800 MHZ band. So, if in future will i be able to use 4G on this Note 3 model. Please reply soon as i’ll we leaving Kuwait in a couple of days.

  6. Hello Deepak ,
    I HAve a Samsung Galaxy note 3 SM9005 Lte Version model Purchased From Dubai and I stay in Mumbai. I Dont Have The 4gLte network Selection Option in my Phone . What Does it Mean . Will I be Able to use The 4G network In India??

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