Q&A: Bharti Airtel on the future of M2M and 4G in India

Q&A: Bharti Airtel on the future of M2M and 4G in India

Dhruv Dhawan, product head, M2M & enterprise solutions, Bharti Airtel, has more than 11 years of experience working in telecommunications, digital media and IT, covering everything from sales and marketing to product management and analytics. He currently heads the M2M & enterprise solutions portfolio for the company and is additionally responsible in driving the automotive and BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) segments.

He took a moment to speak with TU’s Siegfried Mortkowitz about the prospects of M2M and 4G connectivity in India.

Some Indian telematics solution providers are complaining about the reluctance of mobile network operators (MNOs) to provide more broadband connectivity for M2M. What is holding things back?

M2M, as a market, is yet to mature in India and is, in fact, in its nascent stage.  A dedicated intelligent M2M solution offers operators a range of benefits that help tackle existing challenges of the new connected world. Operators, however, need to realize that the development of the market is dependent on their ability to embrace these new approaches, to stimulate innovation and to support new business models.

Being a pan-India telecom operator with a broad range of service offerings comprising of MPLS, VSAT, GPRS/EDGE, 3G, NLD and Internet, Airtel is well poised to provide end-to-end M2M solutions for different m-governance and corporate applications. Our approach to offer tailor-made services coupled with secure connectivity, best-in-class M2M service offerings and superior network [coverage] has helped our customers meet their growing business needs in this dynamic business environment.

What needs to happen in mobile networks for seamless connectivity to become a reality in vehicles?

Seamless network connectivity is most essential for Internet connectivity in vehicles. At Bharti Airtel, it makes us proud that our network connectivity spans across the country, providing robust and dependable telecom services to customers, even in adverse terrains and geographies. To get updates on traffic in real time, we have successfully undertaken a pilot in Bangalore where traffic on the road was determined by using the radio network density.

You recently launched the iPhone 5s, which supports 4G connectivity. How did that go? What has been the consumer response?

Airtel 4G is currently available on dongles and routers in 4 cities – Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Chandigarh. We first launched 4G in Kolkata in April 2012, making India one of the very first countries in the world to commercially deploy cutting-edge 4G technology.

Bangalore is now the first city to get 4G on mobile. iPhone 5s and 5c are the first 4G-ready devices in India that allow customers to experience 4G speeds while on the move. We have witnessed a tremendous response from our customers, especially given the attractive offers that allow our existing 3G customer to automatically migrate to 4G by just changing the SIM with no extra cost. Customers are also excited about the never-before capabilities, such as high-definition video streaming with zero buffering, movie downloads and photograph uploads at unbeatable speeds, and seamless tethering over multiple devices.

Given the scarcity of 4G connectivity in India, will consumers be able to connect to 4G outside of Bangalore?

Customers can enjoy 4G on dongles and routers in all the four cities where we have our 4G operations. 4G on mobile is currently possible only in Bangalore. If they roam outside the city, they will seamlessly switch to 3G/2G.

Siegfried Mortkowitz is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany, Insurance Telematics Europe 2014 on May 6-7 in London, Telematics India and South Asia 2014 on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014 on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan, Insurance Telematics USA 2014 on Sept. 3-4 in Chicago, and Telematics Munich 2014 on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Insurance Telematics Report 2014Connected Fleet Report 2014The Automotive HMI Report 2013 and Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013.


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