It was probably ten days back that I got a call from Airtel Corporate Communications inviting me to a Bloggers meet to be held in connection with their 4G launch in Thiruvananthapuram. I was a bit confused, I wasn’t a blogger in the true sense, but then why was I being invited? We are inviting only few people, said the Corp Comm guy. It seems a common friend had recommended my name. I crosschecked. Guess, it was my active presence in the social media that qualified me for this event.
Last Monday (September 14, 2015) afternoon I turned up at a Coffee shop, the venue for the meet-up. A motley group of hardcore bloggers, social media professionals, social media activists and PR professionals, most of whom I knew, were present there along with senior officials from Airtel.
George Mathen, HuB CEO for Kerala & Tamil Nadu at Bharti Airtel, told us how September 14th was a big day for Airtel as they rolled out 4G service in the capital city. He also gave us details about the long journey that Airtel has travelled since the launch of their first 4G network in Kolkatta, the first in the county too, way back in 2012.
Airtel is the first Telecom service provider to introduce 4G in Kerala. Trivandrum is the third city in the State after Kochi and Kozhikode to get a 4G network. At least for now, 4G pricing is same as 3G.
All of us were given an almost new 4G handset with pre-activated SIM to experience 4G network for two weeks. Just like an excited kid who gets something for the first time, we all switched on our handsets to explore it.
My first task was to do a speed test. 15 years back (I was in Bangalore those days) getting a steady Internet speed of 25 Kbps was considered lucky. Cut to the present and the only difference was that the ‘K’ was replaced with ‘M’. Was sceptical initially but when I asked around, most of us had got similar speeds. It was impressive.
We spent around two hours interacting with each other and also downloading few games or applications or just seeing some HD quality videos without the usual buffering. I was waiting to get home to show off the new 4G connection to my wife and kids.
But the initial enthusiasm died down when I reached home and realised that there was no signal (range) inside my house in Tilak Nagar (Parottukonam). Going up to the first floor also didn’t help. We were told that when a 4G (LTE) customer moves out of coverage area, it would fall back on 3G but in my case, it was showing a 2G (Edge) connection.
Over the next few days, I took my 4G handset along with me to check out the 4G experience. Even though the network speed varied and was not consistent as can be seen from the table below, I was never disappointed. It is much better than any other Internet connection that I have experienced before. Just for the records, we have a 10 Mbps Asianet Broadband (wired) and two wireless (BSNL 3G & BSNL EVDO) connections at home. The Asianet connection has never crossed 3 Mbps and the other two are always in Kbps.
|Date||Place||Time||Download Speed||Upload Speed|
|15/09/2015||Pattom||11.04 am||18.32 Mbps||7.41 Mbps|
|15/09/2015||PMG||11.25 am||8.41 Mbps||7.92 Mbps|
|15/09/2015||Statue||06.05 pm||13.08 Mbps||8.55 Mbps|
|15/09/2015||Press Club||06.23 pm||18.95 Mbps||8.07 Mbps|
|17/09/2015||Mascot Hotel||12.26 pm||11.33 Mbps||2.62 Mbps|
|18/09/2015||Palayam||06.23 pm||12.51 Mbps||5.08 Mbps|
|18/09/2015||Thampanoor||10.09 pm||7.30 Mbps||7.77 Mbps|
Since I wasn’t keeping well for the last few days, I could not go to the IT hub of Trivandrum, basically the Kazhakuttom area and the Airport side but from what I have heard from my friends there, most Airtel 4G users are a happy lot.
Since I cannot use Airtel 4G at home, I have been using it whenever I go out – to attend press conferences and events. I even gave a demo to my students at the Institute of Journalism (IJT) at Trivandrum Press Club. I also use it to see live streaming of news channels while driving around.
So end of one week of using #Airtel4G, it been a very satisfying experience with no complaints. I hope they will sustain the quality of service and the speed. As of now I will recommend Airtel 4G to others.
We are expecting other Telecom operators like Reliance Jio, Idea and Vodafone to launch their 4G services in Kerala by the end of this year or early next year. And BSNL has no plans yet. So Airtel will definitely have the first mover advantage.
Update: I used the Airtel 4G connection for one more week. The maximum download speed that I got during this period was 37.96 Mbps at 12 noon on a normal working day at IJT and the minimum was 6.63 Mbps. End of the two weeks trial period, I returned the handset to Airtel.
Earlier, Airtel Officials contacted me over the issue of poor signal in my residence and after some tests found that my house falls under a null area between three towers. The only solution was to put up a new tower, which they offered to do so provided I find the space for them. (Last updated on 01 Oct 2015)
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