Airtel 4G is already getting reviews, but are things that bad?
From the initial consumer response, Airtel 4G has unhappy customers in Delhi. People have taken to social media to complain about a variety of issues, including low 4G speeds and SIM card unavailability after multiple requests.
I have been trying to get Airtel 4G working on my prepaid number in Delhi/NCR circle for two weeks. No luck yet. I guess… http://t.co/oGqIcYNuft
–Hans Gogia (@hansg01) July 6, 2015
In real life, @Airtel_Presence did not launch 4G in #Delhi (ok, maybe 3.25G). I was getting 15 Mbps in Bangalore. pic.twitter.com/QhRaTgZggC
— sapsonic (@saptarshinath) July 3, 2015
To be fair, some were happy to upgrade to a 4G SIM card.
Finally, airtel 4G is available in Delhi. Well, now slow mobile internet memes will be history. Thanks @airtelindia to provide usim for free.
— Vaibhav Pahwa (@pahwa_vaibhav) July 8, 2015
Get 4G in Delhi. Switched to airtel at the right time. Their network is so much better than Vodafone. pic.twitter.com/KS8lUpOqC9
–Dhruv (@dhruvonit) June 19, 2015
After using an Airtel 4G SIM card for over a week, the biggest plus for me was that 4G worked in very select locations in Delhi and no one should totally rely on it to be connected to the internet on the go for the moment. . Speeds very much depend on the area you’re in, and an Airtel employee who didn’t wish to be named told us that while the company was slowly increasing coverage, for now people in an area densely built will not be good indoor coverage. In fact, there are still parts of town where you don’t get 4G at all. This can be explained by pointing out that we are still in the testing phase.
Airtel – while announcing the trial in Delhi – claimed that on 4G networks, consumers should get internet speeds that will allow high-definition video streaming without buffering; movies downloaded in less than 30 minutes and entire photo albums downloaded in less than five minutes or downloading at least two high-resolution photos per second. We tried Airtel’s SIM card and tested the speeds available in different parts of Delhi. We used Motorola’s Moto E (Gen 2) 4G and Xiaomi’s Redmi 2 smartphones to test 4G in different parts of town and see how well it compared to the 3G network.
A 3 minute Full HD YouTube video streamed in 45 seconds on 4G, and it took over a minute for the same video to stream on 3G in Vasant Kunj area. We downloaded the Angry Birds Star Wars game which is about 46MB in size from Google Play and it took 30 seconds on 4G and about 45 seconds on 3G network near Barakhamba Road. We also tried the video call feature on Airtel’s 4G and encountered almost no disturbance while calling in the Green Park area. The same cannot be said for Airtel’s 3G. On 4G, we were able to download about 5 songs on the Wynk app in a minute in the Janak Puri area; while could only download 3 songs over 3G in one minute. All of these comparisons show that 4G has better speed than 3G – however, it’s not without some caveats.
Data speeds varied wildly in different places on 4G and were sometimes almost equivalent to 3G speed. There are also complete blind spots in the city for Airtel 4G which is not good news for subscribers at all. The Airtel employee who spoke to us about the 4G rollout told us that as more people switch to 4G services, it will relieve some pressure on the current 3G networks. This does however raise the question of how this will affect the 4G experience – as more users come on board, the experience of existing users will likely be affected, if our past experiences with telecom services in this country in are an indication. Our source claimed that Airtel is still working on its 4G services in the city to provide consistent coverage, but could not share a concrete timeline for adding more towers and better coverage.
Despite these issues, we found the overall experience of switching to and using Airtel’s 4G quite smooth. The process of getting a SIM card is easy as you just need to request an Airtel 4G SIM card through the company’s official Airtel 4G SIM card exchange page and we delivered it within 8 hours. For us, after asking for the activation of the new 4G SIM card, the old SIM card (3G compatible) stopped after a while. After inserting the new SIM card, we received a message that 4G services are active on your SIM card and also received the handset’s internet settings. That’s all the setup involved, and at the moment Airtel is offering free 4G upgrade to current Airtel subscribers as well as free home delivery, and even offers 10-minute activation which is handy for many users. Airtel is clearly trying to make the most of its 4G services.
Considering that 4G services increase data consumption compared to 3G, India’s largest telecom company also offers lucrative deals to consumers such as “4G at 3G price” and dual data deal on 4G. This is clearly a win-win situation for consumers as they can upgrade to better speeds at the cost of 3G. The Indian smartphone market has also become favorable for the adoption of 4G as several handsets that support 4G are now available under Rs 10,000 including Xiaomi Redmi 2, Motorola Moto E (Gen 2), Lenovo A6000 Plus, Yu Yuphoria from Micromax, Redmi Note 4G. and Lenovo K3 Note.
This experience stands in stark contrast to India’s 3G rollout – there weren’t many affordable 3G handsets at the time and the cost of using 3G networks was also very high initially. Adoption has only increased recently as services have become cheaper and telecom operators have launched various packs like weekday and daytime top-ups. Looking at the 3G rollout in India, Airtel’s 4G rollout is progressing quite well. Hopefully, Airtel will be able to develop its infrastructure more efficiently and bring its 4G network to the people without slowdowns or dropouts.
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