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Tikona Digital Networks, which is to launch its data offerings on 4G/LTE (high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals) this year, plans to spend Rs 1,000 crore in the next two years.
The company has WiMax licences to offer these services in five telecom circles. It won these in the 2010 licence auction, along with Infotel Broadband Services, taken over by Reliance Industries, as well as Qualcomm, Aircel and others. LTE (Long Term Evolution) speeds would be at least four to five times those of the 3G networks offered by multiple companies in the market. The LTE plaform will also be a pioneering technology in India; it is still in the evolution phase in many developed countries.
Tikona, which already offers Wi-Fi data connectivity to home consumers as well as small enterprises, hopes to combine both LTE and Wi-Fi in future plans. “We will converge both,” said Prakash Bajpai, chief executive officer.
The combined service will offer data connectivity through existing Wi-Fi networks indoors, such as homes and offices. When the same consumer moves outdoors, these services will be offered via LTE. “When at home, traffic will automatically get bypassed to Wi-Fi. When the devices are used outside, we can connect it to LTE. Both will offer high speed experience but this way, it will have a better cost distribution and this combination will be very powerful,” said Bajpai.
The number of devices used will be given connectivity and user authentication. Bajpai also does not rule out the possibility of offering voice along with data in the package. While voice can be offered over WiMax spectrum through voice operated internet protocol or VoIP, it requires a huge ecosystem of LTE devices, which is not widely available.
Bajpai did not comment on whether he would participate in the forthcoming re-auction of 2G spectrum.
The Wi-Fi and LTE combination, according to him, will also follow the usage patterns of consumers. “Around 80 per cent of data usage happens when you are stationary and indoors. You don't surf YouTube while walking on the road. You do it when you are settled in the home and in the office, right? That will be well taken care of by the Wi-Fi capacity,” said Bajpai.
Tikona also claims to have an advantage in terms of the circles in which it has LTE capacity. Except in Himachal Pradesh, the company offers its Wi-Fi services in the circles where it has WiMax spectrum. The others being Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West) and Rajasthan. “About 30 per cent of the population of India resides in the five circles, with 320 million population. Earlier, circles like UP and Bihar were considered low grade telecom circles, but not now. Today, they might have the lowest number of Internet customers, but they will have the highest potential for the Internet, as they are populous,” said Bajpai.
Tikona is also undertaking a second phase of expansion of its Wi-Fi network. It currently offers these services in 39 cities. It is about to start a second phase of expansion of its Wi-Fi services across the country.
“We would like to expand it to hundreds of cities but it is a matter of new capital,” said Bajpai. He also claimed they’d created value with 270,000 consumers and 10,000 small and medium business enterprises. It has also started trading sights on high-end enterprise consumers.