Gopal Vittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel – the largest operator in India – flagged up the high price of 4G devices as one of the main barriers to LTE rollout in India.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Global TD-LTE initiative (GTI) summit, he said that until prices drop below $100, LTE would not be significant.
“We look at LTE and the opportunity, but it’s still some time away,” he said.
Airtel’s CEO pointed to other “infrastructure challenges” holding back 4G.
“The spectrum we have – supplied to all operators – is about 40 per cent of the global average,” he said. “Making the situation worse is that eight to nine operators share it, leading to extremely fragmented spectrum holdings.”
Another big problem, said Vittal, is that only 5-10 per cent of base stations throughout India are hooked up to fibre.
Vittal added that while India has 900 million mobile customers, only 130 million have mobile internet access. And of that smaller number, there are only 67 million smartphones.
“The vast majority of mobile users are on 2G,” he said.