India's leading integrated telecom service provider, Airtel, on Wednesday announced the launch of eight Mbps broadband service, becoming the first service provider in the country to offer such high speed broadband service.
Announcing the launch of the new product, Bharti Airtel President (Broadband and Telephone Services) Atul Bindal said with this the Airtel broadband customers could now browse multiple windows and at the same time, download heavy files, view streaming video, enjoy online gaming, chat, email and other applications.
Currently the speeds on offer, range from 256 KBps to 4Mbps. With the new speed offering, Airtel has pioneered a revolution in internet experience, he said.
"Airtel customers will no longer have to wait for a video to get buffered while watching streaming videos. They would be able to download a 5 Mb music file in five seconds flat as compared to 160 seconds on a 256 kbps connection," according to P V V Srinivas Roa, Chief Marketing Officer.
Airtel's eight Mbps broadband service will initially be available in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, Delhi and the NCR, with a subsequent roll out in Mumbai and Hyderabad in a few weeks.
The offering would be commercially available soon, he said, adding the price points of this offering is still being worked out. However, roughly the price point could be around Rs 2,000 for a download of 7-8 Gbs.
Tariff plans and product offerings are also being worked out to enable customers, who do not want a 24-hour eight mpbs speed but want them for certain applications or a short duration of time, to avail the new offering.
Airtel's objective while finalising the tariff plan for the new offering would not be to make it very expensive but rather to achieve a deeper penetration and to open the market, said Bindal.
"The aim of this offering is to reach out to the mass consumers, especially homes, SMES and youth in particular."
The plans worked out would enable the existing customers of a lower speed broadband services to upgrade their services. "We are looking at a segment of `speed on demand', he said.
Airtel has invested in the back-end infrastructure to deliver these speeds.
It already has a Carier Ethernet Network oprational in Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. In the next phase Mumbai too would be upgraded to CEN.
CEN allows not only provisioning of high speed plans to broadband customers but also delivery of triple play services. In the other cities, the SDH network has been upgraded to deliver four and 8 Mbps speeds.
"With the 8Mbps speed, our network will also be IPTV ready," he said adding the pilot run at NCR had been going on successfully and once the clarity on government regulatory came through, Airtel would be in a position to launch the service in NCR and subsequently in other places.
Keeping up with changing times and needs, Airtel's business is witnessing a transformation from being voice centric to broadband. "There was an attempt to upgrade the value chain and to offer services of world class quality."
Elaborating on Airtel's advantage in pioneering the service, he said, Airtel being one of the thoroughly integrated operators, was something it could leverage on in addition to its existing infrastructure.