Airtel on Saturday officially rolled out 4G LTE trials in the Mumbai on Band 40, 2300MHz using the TD-LTE technology. The company has previously rolled out its 4G services in 23 other cities and over the weekend, it has also added Chennai, Hyderabad & Vishakhpatnam along with Mumbai to its list.
Existing and New Airtel customers with 4G compatible mobile handsets can upgrade their existing SIM cards to newer 4G U-SIMs for Free by visiting any nearest Airtel gallery or by ordering one from their website at http://airtel.in/4g. You can also check whether your handset & SIM are ready for the 4G network by visiting this page and entering your mobile number there.
Airtel has made the following tiny SIM SWAP kits available for free and you can detach a normal sized SIM, Micro-SIM or nano-SIM from these, depending on the type of phone or device you have.
Once you get these, you can send the following SMS to 121 from your current SIM, after which you’re asked to reply with “1” for confirmation. You’ll then receive the order confirmation and the new one will be activated in about 10 minutes.
SIM <number at the back of new SIM ending with U>
There are no separate plans for Airtel 4G. Whatever 3G plan you are currently on will also be applicable when you switch to their 4G LTE network.
At an event held on Saturday in Mumbai that I attended, the company demoed speed tests comparing their 3G & 4G networks. Since the network has been rolled out on the 2300MHz spectrum in Mumbai, the coverage indoors has been extremely poor. I barely get 1-2 bars on my devices and more often than not, the phone’s on 3G/HSPA. Having said that, the speeds that I have been consistently seeing are rather impressive.
— Preshit Deorukhkar (@preshit) May 16, 2015
Since then, I have run multiple tests in various parts of the suburban district and generally speaking, I’ve been getting speeds between 25-40 Mbps down and 3-12Mbps up. Here are some quick thoughts about the network:
- Unlike 3G, the 4G speeds have been consistent for each session. Often when I run speed tests on 3G, there’s always a big spike up front, after which the speed starts falling towards the end. With 4G, the speeds don’t fluctuate as much.
- 90% or more of the speed tests I’ve run on 4G so far have given be speeds upwards of 30Mbps
- There are still some areas in the city that don’t have proper 4G coverage.
- Even though the 4G network shows 1-2 bars, the speeds aren’t low. The screenshot above shows 47Mbps down even with just 2 bars.
Airtel’s 3G (and Platinum 3G) network performs very poorly in and around where I live (in Malad West). Although there are always 4-5 bars on the phone, data doesn’t actually work when you want it to. So far, Airtel 4G has been working splendidly and the speeds have been fantastic. I do wish they could’ve have chosen the 1800MHz (FD-LTE) instead, as they have in some other cities in India. There are a lot more devices that support FD-LTE.
Because these are 4G “trials”, the company has released an app called ‘airtel asks’ (currently only available on Android, iOS app coming soon) which lets users submit feedback about the network from their current location. The company says that they’re actively looking for feedback and will continue to improve the networks in the coming weeks.