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Airtel consolidates 4G first-mover advantage

Launches services in 296 towns, while pushing an "open partner ecosystem model" to encourage third party apps. Says Rs.5000 phones could materialize soon

Bharti Airtel today launched 4G services in 296 towns across India, following successful trial of the services in select cities. The services are now available to users via a range of smart devices like mobile phones, dongles, 4G hotspots and Wi-Fi dongles. Insiders say 4G phones could be available at around Rs.5000 soon.

The move comes even as Reliance Jio Infocomm is readying to launch its own 4G services in December. Idea Cellular, Vodafone India and Reliance Communications have announced launch plans for 4G services to come either later this year or early next year.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Bharti Airtel, while announcing the service, added that "we also believe that an open platform is critical to developing an ecosystem that nurtures innovation and enabling our consumers to access a myriad set of possibilities on their mobile phones. Our 4G network is therefore built on an open partner ecosystem model that brings together the best in the industry and introduces the market to these never=before experiences".

Airtel also launched a new carrier-agnostic mobile app - 'Wynk Movies' - a first of its kind movie mall that will offer a specially curated library of thousands of movies and other popular videos.

The telco is offering 4G services at 3G data prices with packs starting at Rs 25. In addition, with every 4G SIM swap, Airtel is offering six months of unlimited music streaming and downloads on 'Wynk Music' and five free movies per month for six months on the Eros Now channel of 'Wynk Movies'.

In addition, the telco has introduced a new range of 'Infinity Plans' starting Rs 999. These high-end plans offer unlimited voice calls on mobile (first time in India) along with data benefits and access to 'Wynk Movies' and 'Wynk Music'.

The telco is providing home delivery of SIMs and postpaid connections in four hours.

It has also launched Flexpage, an automated platform that allows customers to track their data usage and get real time usage alerts. With this platform, Airtel customers can also upgrade their mobile plan on the go, as and when they exhaust their monthly data quota. "Customers can also opt from amongst a host of affordable 4G smart bytes starting at prices as low as Rs 100," the company said.

Aimed at driving the commercial launch of its 4G services, Airtel has launched an all new brand campaign.

Airtel has also formed alliances with Flipkart and Samsung to support its 4G services.

Based on news from Economic Times and TV18

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