MTS India to push EVDO broadband where others fear to tread

Sistema Shyam TeleServices, owner of the MTS brand and one of the most innovative operators in India, has announced that it will convert its CDMA network along all of India’s major roads to high-speed (EVDO) technology.

As a first step, it has converted the 265 km Delhi-Jaipur highway stretch to high-speed CDMA and even launched the MTS TV on the route.

The other two CDMA operators, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices, do not have high-speed network on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, according to MTS.

Indeed, Reliance Communications had recently announced that it has launched HSD in the top 1000 of India’s cities and for the rest of India, it was offering a regular CDMA unlimited plan of Rs 169 per month. The move was seen as an indication that RCom did not see much of a market prospect in high speed data outside the 1,000 cities, where most of India’s highways pass through.

However, MTS’s mobile broadband is available only in around 150 cities as of now.

Tata Teleservices’ high speed EVDO services too are currently restricted to the big cities, though it is unclear whether it would expand it to rural areas and highways as MTS has promised.

While the recently launched GSM 3G networks give around 2 to 3 Mbps of speed on the ground, the CDMA EVDO networks offered by the above three usually manage around 0.8 to 1.2 Mbps of speed. Unlike 3G, which uses 10 MHz of spectrum, EVDO services in India use only 2.5 MHz of spectrum.

MTS claims over 8 lakh (0.8 million) mobile broadband subscribers in India, compared to around 68 lakh (6.8 million) broadband (DSL) subscribers with India’s leading provider, 15 lakh with the runner-up Bharti Airtel and 9 lakh for with the third, MTNL.