MTS launches turbo-charged CDMA 3G option with MBlaze Ultra 9.8 Mbps

MTS India said it has become the first operator in the World to launch a mobile network based on the Phase II of the CDMA EV-DO (Revision B) technology.

While that may sound like a lot of gobbledygook to many consumers, what it means is that the speed on the CDMA network can now hit up to 9.8 Mbps, up from around 3.1 Mbps on current CDMA networks.

EVDO is the 3G equivalent of the CDMA world, and has been launched across the country by Reliance (Broadband+), Tata Teleservices (Photon+) and MTS (MBlaze.)

While average speeds on the ordinary CDMA networks used to be around 150 Kbps (good enough for email etc.), it went up to around 1 Mbps (1000 Kbps) when EVDO was introduced.

With the latest move by MTS, it is likely to now climb to around 2 to 4 Mbps for average users who buy the data-cards (USB dongles) based on the Phase II technology. The CDMA operators have two slots of spectrum channels of 1.25 MHz each in India, except in some circles where they have more.

However, only one of the two channels have so far been used for providing Internet data services, with the other one set apart for voice.

However, the CDMA EVDO Revision B (Rev B) technology conjoins multiple channels to increase the speeds.

CDMA operators were the first to introduce 3G services in India, though they did not brand them as 3G fearing lawsuits from GSM operators. The Broadband+ and Photon+ services were launched more than two years ago.

However, with the recent entry of GSM 3G which provide around 3 Mbps of on-the-ground speed in most cases, their effective speeds of around 1 Mbps has started looking low. It may also be noted that 3G is deployed on a single block of 5 MHz (one-way), while CDMA EVDO is deployed on a block that is only 1.25 MHz thick.

“Compared to EV-DO Rev.B Phase I, the Phase II technology can further enhance the base-station cell capacity, spectrum efficiency and peak rate, achieving high speed rate as high as 4.9 Mbps in single frequency carrier and 9.8 Mbps in two frequency carrier bundle,” MTS said.

Despite the new technology, GSM 3G still remains the technically faster technology. Most of the networks in India support around 21 Mbps, more than twice the speed claimed by MTS today. However, most 3G instruments in India can only support up to 3.6 Mbps or a maximum of 7.1 Mbps.

Despite this, the war of technologies is expected to continue.

The new service from MTS has been christened MBlaze Ultra. There are several options and schemes.

The plain vanilla option is to buy to the card (USB dongle) for Rs 2499 and subscribe to a data package. Data packs start at Rs 629 per month (for 1 GB transfer?). 3G data plans too cost around the same (for 1 GB download), while they cost Rs 750 for 2 GB download.

Or they can pay Rs 4599 to get 1 GB data usage per month for six months and get the dongle free. Interestingly, all customers purchasing MBlaze Ultra in the first month of launch will get 50 percent extra usage for lifetime. In other words, when they recharge for 1 GB data plan at any time in the future, they will get 1.5 GB instead.

The new plan will be launched in the coming weeks in top 25 Indian cities and has started off at Jaipur today.

It has also launched LIVE TV and on demand Video Channels, with over 100 Live TV and Video on Demand to a range of News, Entertainment, Sports and Regional channels.

“CDMA EV-DO Rev.B Phase-I network is present in several countries across the world including Japan, Norway, Indonesia, Sweden, South Korea and Ukraine among others. However, MTS India is credited to be the first telecom company in the world to commercially launch the CDMA EV-DO Rev.B Phase II network,” the company said.

Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd (SSTL) is a venture, involving equity participation by Sistema of Russia, the Russian Federation and the Shyam Group of India. Sistema is the majority shareholder in the joint venture company which operates its telecom services under the MTS brand. MTS in India has over 13 million wireless subscribers and under the MBlaze brand provides mobile broadband services to more than 1 million customers in over 200 cities across the country.


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