MUMBAI — Vodafone India said on Friday it would launch fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone services in the country by the end of the year, joining rival Bharti Airtel in offering faster data services.
India's telecommunications market is bracing for heated competition from Reliance Jio, the telecoms unit of conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd., as it prepares to offer 4G services starting in December.
Mobile phone carriers in India, the world's second-biggest market by number of customers, have spent billions of dollars on buying telecom airwaves to meet surging demand for data services.
Vodafone India acquired additional 4G (LTE) spectrum in five circles in the country, in the February 2014 auctions. These circles together contribute close to 50 percent of the total data revenues for Vodafone India, the company said.
With its deep pockets, Reliance is expected to up the ante by offering affordable 4G connectivity and disrupting the industry. Earlier this month, rival Bharti Airtel said it would expand its 4G coverage to nearly 300 towns in the coming weeks.
A proliferation of cheap smartphones has prompted more Indians to use their handsets to access the Internet and demand faster downloads. An Internet-based startup boom in the country has also seen increased adaptability on smartphones, bolstering the demand for high-speed data.