Airtel today announced it will offer LTE services on smartphones starting from Bangalore, where it already offered LTE services via USB dongles and Wi-Fi base stations. This will ensure that if one has a compatible smartphone with TD-LTE support in band 40, Airtel subscribers would get 4G connectivity on their phones and also make and receive calls and text messages.
Unlike Voice over LTE, Airtel is using Circuit Switched FallBack (CSFB) technology that allows it to use its existing 2G and 3G networks for voice calls and text messages. With this implementation users will be on the 4G LTE network for data and whenever the user makes or receives any call, the network will automatically switch to 2G or 3G, depending on what’s available. Similarly, in areas where 4G LTE network is not present, users will be automatically switched to 3G or 2G networks.
Airtel had tied up with erstwhile Nokia Siemens Networks (Nokia Solutions and Networks now) for providing CSFB technology. While we will have to wait for Airtel to officially announce the plans and whether one would have to subscribe to a 3G data plan in addition to a 4G plan for the services to work.
The best case scenario, however, is that users of iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C might be able to access 4G speeds in Bangalore as the Indian retail units (iPhone 5S A1530 and iPhone 5C A1529) support Band 40 in TD-LTE, which is deployed in India. Those who have bought the new iPhones from abroad can check the exact model variant printed on the box to find if their iPhones are compatible with Indian LTE networks.