India eyes 4G service launch next year

NEW DELHI, November 5, 2011 (AFP) – India aims to launch fourth-generation (4G) mobile services next year that will allow users to watch high-definition video and download content at a much faster rate, a minister said. 4G technology holds the promise of Internet speeds up to 10 times faster than typical third-generation networks.

“We should be ready to launch 4G… in the later half of 2012,” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said late Friday, according to the Press Trust of India.

“We have large capacities in spectrum to move forward in 4G which is hopefully going to be launched towards end of next year,” he said.

The government is keen to ramp up its mobile and Internet penetration in the country of 1.2 billion people as a way of boosting access to education and health services and propel economic growth.

Sibal’s comments come as telecom operators are rolling out 3G mobile services after winning spectrum in a fiercely contested auction in 2010.

Telecom and Internet services providers paid a combined nearly $23 billion to the government for bandwidth to offer 3G telephone and broadband wireless Internet services.

India is the world’s second-largest mobile market but Sibal lamented i