The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AirTel looks to give subscribers the EDGE

New Delhi, Nov. 20: AirTel, India’s leading cellular service operator, is gearing up to face the threat from Reliance Infocomm by offering a slew of value-added services and high speed internet access to its subscribers.

The company today claimed to have successfully conducted the Enhanced Data Rate for Global Evolution (EDGE) trials, using Ericsson’s solution for EDGE technology.

EDGE offers users higher data transmission rates that are needed to unleash the full potential of mobile internet services.

With EDGE, customers will not only be ‘always connected’ to the internet, but they will also benefit from a potential three-fold increase in data transfer rate over current GPRS (General Packet Radio System) networks.

GPRS is an ‘always on’ service for delivering high-speed mobile data across a mobile network. With GPRS roaming, customers will be able to send and receive MMS (multimedia messaging), access the internet as well as other data services and information.

Industry observers say the company is responding to the Reliance threat much too late. It had the opportunity to offer high speed internet and data services using different technology long before its competitors.

“This is an investment that is born out of necessity to retain its customer base; it’s not a proactive commitment to offer the latest to the customers,” said a senior executive of a cellular operator.

Reliance is already offering high speed internet and data services on its mobile phones and network using the code divison multiple access technology.

When AirTel offers the EDGE to its subscribers, it will be able to offer an enhanced user experience and advanced mobile internet services.

AirTel also announced the introduction of international GPRS roaming with SingTel in Singapore and Globe in the Philippines. This facility is expected to be extended to customers roaming in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, the US, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Manoj Kohli, president, mobility, Bharti Tele-Ventures, says, “EDGE is the new mantra in the global internet connectivity scene and will allow us to offer high speed data services which are approximately three times those of GPRS.”

“As the demand grows for higher bit rate services with guaranteed quality of service, EDGE will be the natural choice. Having taken the first step towards the introduction of this technology, it clearly demonstrates our continued commitment to provide world class wireless services to our customers,” he added. AirTel’s network in Delhi will be EDGE-ready by the middle of next year. Ericsson, the largest supplier of mobile systems in the world, will be providing the EDGE network equipment as well as related implementation services to AirTel.

Jan Campbell, managing director of Ericsson India, said, “We are delighted to be a part of the country’s first EDGE trial by Bharti and help usher in a new era of 3G capable services.”

AirTel also introduced international GPRS roaming that will enable customers to access internet/high speed data even while travelling. International GPRS roaming has been made available by AirTel in a tieup with SingTel (in Singapore) and Globe (the Philippines).

The facility will be extended to the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, the US, Thailand and Sri Lanka within a short time.

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