The After Math: Buyer’s remorse
You can’t always get what you want, even if you pay good money for it. Disney has decided to drop its Infinity franchise and the studio that developed it. A judge ordered Lyft to double its class action payout to drivers. And Earth’s atmosphere has doubled — that’s right, doubled — in weight since we first got it. That’s it, I want to talk to the manager.
These Japanese smartglasses are trying to teach me zen
I’m on the subway, my head tilted downward to face my phone. I blink five times, I put my hand on my tummy to “feel” my breathing. To casual onlookers, I look suspicious as hell (or about to cry), but I’m meditating — so please leave me alone. Yes, there’s no lack of meditation apps on both iTunes and Google Play, but a wearable that monitors your body’s reactions and offers feedback is rarer. JINS Meme is a pair of Japanese-made smartglasses that look pretty much like normal glasses. I’ve trained with them and run with them, and now the latest app for the specs is trying helping me to chill the eff out.
JINS Meme look just like a pair of glasses, albeit with chunky arms, fortunately avoid the jarring appearance of other gadgets that use sensors to measure your brainwaves. That said, they’re sometimes a little uncomfortable due to the high-tech nose-bridge that’s monitoring the electromagnetic field created by your eye movement (crazy, right?). And you need to recharge them pretty regularly.
About that nose-bridge: It’s made of three contacts that detect and extrapolate your blink frequency as well as the movement of your eyes based on tiny electromagnetic differences caused by your very eyeballs. JINS, the Japanese spectacle maker behind the smartglasses, cites scientific research that shows the frequency and intensity of our blinks give a good representation as to how well we are focusing.
The app makers themselves suggest you can use the meditation software (almost) anywhere. So I did.
The “zen” meditation app is different from everything else I have tested with these smartglasses. I didn’t need a change of clothes, trainers or somewhere with some degree of privacy — I just needed my phone, JINS Meme and a pair of headphones to listen to the meditation instructions. The app makers say you can use the meditation software (almost) anywhere. So I did.I used it on my commute into work, skipped a half-hour of work (for research) and tried it at home, all in search of chill, if not Netflix.
The app is divided into two meditation classes: one for relaxation and focus, the other for improving creativity. The first, simpler class is called “Focused Attention” and asks you to gaze on an ever-decreasing circle displayed on your phone — best practice is to place the phone on the floor or table roughly 50 cm ahead of you. The audio-based narration guides you through the short session, reminding you to concentrate on breathing, maintaining good posture and listening to the noises around you.
The last part doesn’t work so well good in the office or on the train, but it’s comparable to a relaxation tape, albeit in Japanese. After you complete it once, you unlock longer meditation sessions up to 10 minutes long. A free mode also allows you to plot lengthier sessions, although this lacks the dippy calming narration of the level-based meditation sessions.
The second class, “Open Monitoring”, is a higher-level training exercise that has additional white noise and faux murmuring and ocean noises aimed at pushing your creative boundaries. It’s hard to empirically measure if Open Monitoring made me more creative, but subjectively, I felt it invigorated me (I was energized, less distracted) more than Focused Attention.
Relaxation is a complicated thing: graphing may help quantify but that doesn’t mean it’s an effective feedback mechanism.
Both features use the Meme smartglasses to gauge your breathing, mindfulness and posture. While you get scored on using each, the point isn’t to consciously aim for a high score. Relax, Mat. Relax. I found the individual scores pretty arbitrary, perhaps because meditation is hugely subjective and personal; when I felt I was particularly relaxed, the scores didn’t reflect this. Relaxation is a complicated thing: Graphing may help quantify it, but that doesn’t mean it’s an effective feedback mechanism.
I found the advice offered after each session far more useful. It suggested I push to concentrate through the entire five-minute session (which is difficult when your train stop is just three minutes away) and reminded me to sit up straight. Yes, I was slouching. The main aim is to get into a “focus” red zone, in which each score contributes to a total that the app deems a high level of concentration. After a week or two of use, I was starting to hit this area with some regularity. Unsurprisingly, a quieter environment helps — just because you could meditate on the side of the highway doesn’t mean you should.
I’ve tried some relaxation apps before, and even some posture wearables that irritate with notifications when I’m not sitting properly. However, setting aside five minutes a day to meditate and receive feedback on how my body is reacting seems a much more effective way to improve my outlook and posture at the same time (and all without any incense or soothing forest sounds playlists). It’s never going to make me completely stress-free, but five minutes was more than enough for me to claw back some degree of calmness and centeredness. That is, as long as I remembered to charge the smartglasses the night before.
From the Editor’s Desk: The dark side of selling an app
Use Dark Sky, or don’t use Dark Sky. But don’t tell me it’s somehow not worth $3 a year. The math doesn’t lie.
Here we go again. A long-awaited app finally comes to Android — and the developer has the gall to ask for $3 a year to use the really good parts of it. Instead of, ya know, mucking the whole thing up with ads, or charging more money a single time, or …
Yes, we’re going to have this discussion again.
The question at hand isn’t whether weather app Dark Sky is worth $2.99 a year. If you’ve already got a weather app you love and that does what you want and that doesn’t cost you less more than eight tenths of a penny a day and doesn’t have ads, awesome. Use it.
And the question isn’t why you’re willing to pay $5 a day for coffee-flavored sugar water that you’ll piss out by lunchtime — but think a $3-a-year weather app costs too much. There’s some basic math at work there, and it’s not supporting your argument, no matter how many times you try to make it.
No, my question is this: Who cares?
I get that we have to have something to complain about on Twitter. (What else is it for, right?) But this one’s really silly. There’s no need to overthink this. If you want a weather app that attempts to tell you within minutes that it’s going to rain, and you’re willing to pay a paltry sum for such an app — do it. If you’re not, no worries.
Three dollars. A year. Not even a month. If that’s too much for something you’re potentially going to use every day, then …
It’s as simple as that. There’s no reason to overthink things. I should yell out my car window when the driver in front of me needs two hands to take ownership of the oversized snow-covered sugar mountain, while I await my more humble latte?
It’s OK to be a cheap bastard. It’s OK to be frugal. And it’s OK to spend a little more sometimes on a thing you’re going to be using a lot. (Particularly, I’d argue, when what you’re spending goes fairly directly to the folks who actually made the thing you’re buying.)
What’s truly dumb is wasting as much time as I’ve just done here, discussing this very thing. Time to grab my coffee and head outside. It’s nice out today.
(But first, a few other things I think I think:)
- Brilliant little video from TeslaCentral. Just because you see something on Facebook doesn’t make it true. (And, in fact, probably means it’s not.)
- Speaking of Facebook, this “trending topics” controversy is ridiculous. Countless organizations use people to chose what you see as “trending” every day.
- I did it for years, for a newspaper. It was called a “wire editor.” We chose the AP stories that everyone read the next day. Is there bias? Of course. And if you know your bias, you can do your job better.
- I’m choosing what you’re reading in this column right now.
- Facebook had a decent response, though. That’s how it works.
- But this? It’s an effing joke, right? This is what the U.S. Senate is spending its time on?
- Speaking of good responses, I think Ring handled this the right way. Good response to a dumb mistake. (That affected very few people.)
- Glad Google’s providing OTA links for Nexus updates now. I’ll say it again — it’s worth learning how to do that basic command line stuff.
- If only so I don’t have to go on another tweetstorm like this.
- I stole the Ricoh Theta S from Russell. This is the 360 camera to get, IMHO.
That’s it for this week. We’re headed to Google I/O. You can find all our stories here, and things kick off in earnest on Wednesday!
Inhabitat’s Week in Green: Hyperloop One’s public test, and more!
The Hyperloop promises to one day transport passengers at blazing speeds — and the technology just took a big step forward. This week Hyperloop One launched a cart from 0 to 166 miles per hour in 1.1 seconds in its first public test. In other futuristic transportation news, a European Space Agency incubator just unveiled the world’s first flying car capable of vertical takeoff and landing. In Japan, there are now more electric vehicle chargers than gas stations. And researchers in Mexico have developed a new type of glowing cement that could light up dark highways.
Germany is investing heavily in clean energy, and it’s paying off: This past weekend the country generated so much renewable electricity that utility prices went negative. Meanwhile, renewables overpowered natural gas in the US for the first quarter of 2016, and Santa Monica passed new regulations requiring solar panels on all new buildings. Nissan took on the Tesla Powerwall with a home battery of its own, and BioLite launched a new lantern that doubles as a portable microgrid for outdoor adventures.
As the 2016 Rio Olympics draw near, health experts are issuing grave warnings about the Zika Virus. Fortunately, Harvard has developed a cheap paper test that can detect the virus in hours instead of weeks, and IBM is developing a new macromolecule that could be a “magic bullet” in the fight against viruses. In other design and technology news, researchers have developed a new bionic hand that allows amputees to “feel” their fingers again. The Mover Kit is a wearable gadget that teaches kids how to code and build their own devices. And a mountainous vertical forest skyscraper is set to scrub the air clean in Guizhou, China.
Watch Autoblog take a ride in the vomit comet
For our 200th episode, we wanted to send host Jonathon Buckley where no Translogic host had gone before. And while it isn’t technically the final frontier, a Zero-G flight and astronaut training at the National Aerospace Training and Research center got us closer than ever to the stars.
First, Bucko experiences the crushing g-force of suborbital flight in the Phoenix centrifuge simulator at the NASTAR center in Southampton, PA. Then it’s off to Las Vegas to experience weightlessness during a Zero-G Experience parabolic flight.
“It’s a giant arc,” said Zero-G pilot Erich Domitrovits. “We pretty much go as fast as we can, and then we get into a pull… and when we run out of speed I start to push over. And when I push and depending on how hard I push, is the amount of weightlessness you feel.”
“A good way to think of it is, you’ll be floating just like somebody threw you like a football, and we’ll be moving the airplane around you.”
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- Click here to learn more about our host, Jonathon Buckley.
Best TV catch-up on Freeview Play: F1 Spanish Grand Prix, The Hollow Crown and more
When looking for something to watch it’s worth remembering that with Freeview Play you can easily find shows that have been on in the last seven days, without having to go through a multitude of different streaming apps.
TVs, set-top-boxes and other entertainment kit that support Freeview Play offer the option to scroll back through the electronic programme guide and catch-up on shows you might have missed.
Just find something that strikes your eye, click on it in the EPG and it will open in each channel’s dedicated app and play.
At present, BBC, ITV and Channel 4 programming is available to scroll back to on Freeview Play, while Channel 5’s can also be played through the Demand 5 app on supported devices. UKTV Play shows are also coming to the platform.
It works just as well for shows you are already aware of and if you don’t know what you’re looking for specifically. If it’s the latter for you, here are some of our suggestions from the week just gone.
READ: What is Freeview Play, when is it coming to my TV and how can I get it?
Eurovision Song Contest: Grand Final
BBC One (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Saturday 14 May
After two semi-finals, both of which also being available to catch-up with on Freeview Play, the final 26 contestants battled it out to be crowned the 2016 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, Sweden on Saturday.
If you missed the live broadcast, now’s your chance to catch up with the ultra-camp goings on.
BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Monday 9 May
As part of the BBC’s Shakespeare season, Ben Elton has crafted his finest period comedy since Blackadder.
David Mitchell (Peep Show) takes on the role of the bard with gusto and there are many more laughs throughout one episode than most of Elton’s more recent sitcoms put together.
The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses – Henry VI Part 2
BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast Saturday 14 May
The Hollow Crown series covers several of Shakespeare’s royal plays and the latest to air is Henry VI Part 2.
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Dr Strange), this screen adaptation is also shown as part of the BBC’s bard festival and brings big budget effects and production values to one of the more enduring of his historical plays.
The Almost Impossible Gameshow
ITV 2 (ITV Hub) – broadcast Wednesday 11 May
From the sublime to the ridiculous, The Almost Impossible Gameshow proudly wears its silliness on its sleeve.
Now in its second series, contestants must overcome bonkers physical challenges in order to win a feeble trophy. Much to our amusement.
On the Buses
ITV 3 (ITV Hub) – broadcast Wednesday 11 May
Above we feature the latest in a long line of British sitcoms in Upstart Crow, but let us not forget the classics.
On the Buses is regularly screened on ITV 3 and with comedy legend Stephen Lewis passing away towards the end of last year, this serves as a fantastic reminder of how good he was as Inspector Blakey.
Very British Problems
4Seven (All 4) – broadcast Wednesday 11 May
Based on a series of tweets and subsequently books written by friend of Pocket-lint, tech writer Rob Temple, Very British Problems returns for a second season and you can catch up with it on 4Seven.
Celebrities, such as James Cordon, recall situations and stories that would only affect us Brits.
Formula 1: Spanish Grand Prix
Channel 4 (All 4) – broadcast Sunday 15 May
Nico Rosberg is literally racing away from the pack in the hunt to be the Formula One world champion in 2016. Can Lewis Hamilton win his first race in over 100 days and make up some of the ground?
Qualification was shown live on Saturday, with the race on Sunday. Now’s your chance to catch up with the lot.
Get catch-up and on demand TV for £0 per month with Freeview Play. Click here to find out more.
Virzoom Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET
I keep pedaling. I’m heading towards the cowboys. Pulling the right trigger, I lasso them. Leaning makes me feel like I’m falling off the stationary bike. It gets worse when I’m on a flying horse.
VirZoom is an exercise bike, and it’s a VR game controller. After a year of being teased and shown at game conventions, it’s being shipped in about a month.
I got a chance to try out the near-final version with the final set of games that will be available. Do you see biking in place while in VR in your future? This is what the experience is all about.
So, this is…an exercise bike?
Yep. A stationary, folding bike. About 38 pounds.
How does this work with VR, exactly?
It’s like a game controller. Pedaling moves you forward. Leaning, while wearing a VR headset with position tracking like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or PlayStation VR, lets you steer (it feels like you might fall off the bike, but I learned to not lean too much). Buttons and triggers on each handlebar work to do other things. VirZoom comes with its own set of five arcade-like mini games, but it can theoretically work with other games — if and when other developers enable support for VirZoom. A few undisclosed games will be compatible at launch.
What are these mini games?
VirZoom comes with five games included, and they all feel a little like Sega arcade games teleported into VR. Cowboy is a round-up-the-bad-guys horse-racing game. Tank is a multiplayer all-terrain game where you ride around, turn your turret, and blast enemies. Pegasus is a fly-a-horse game, like a bike-riding Pilotwings. River Run is like Tank but in a helicopter over a river, and feels a bit like the old game Thunder Blade. Race Car (yes, that’s the name) is an F1 racing game, where you are…a puppy. In a race car. I don’t know why.
How do you track fitness?
VirZoom logs activity sessions and calorie burn, but it also hooks into Strava, the popular cycling and fitness app, and Google Fit. You should be able to sync your sessions automatically (I haven’t tried this yet).
A real exercise bike?
Yes. It has eight resistance settings, and — according to VirZoom’s founder –, these units were sourced from China and converted to add the game controller features. So it’s really a basic folding stationary bike, plus extras. It runs for a year on two AA batteries (according to the company) which handle Bluetooth and controller functions.
What does it work with?
VirZoom supports Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR (which I tested it with), and promises future support for “mobile VR.” For now, consider a gaming PC or a PlayStation 4 to be a requirement.
How much does it cost?
Funny question. The preorder price is $399, but there will also be a required subscription service to access games and new features. Early pre-orders get a “lifetime subscription” free. Otherwise, you’ll get 3 months of free access, then pay: $9.95/month, $59.95 a year, $89.95 for 2 years, or $199.95 for lifetime.
What the hell, why is it so expensive?
VirZoom aims to put itself up against high-end spin classes and exercise bikes with subscriptions, like Peloton, but that’s a stretch. It’s not clear at all how good the VirZoom bike is, and similar-looking stationary bikes can be gotten on Amazon for as little as $150. You’re paying for the hook-in to VR game compatibility, and the promise of future services. VirZoom claims the games will be playable without a subscription, but that subscription model alone is a dealbreaker for me because the bike alone isn’t cheap. (Neither is a VR gaming system, either.)
When is it available?
VirZoom should be shipping in June.
Will this make you fit?
Well, VirZoom is an exercise bike, so yes. But the routines and games don’t seem to clearly be set up as training sessions, although you’ll be able to keep track of how long you’ve been active. I broke a sweat over half an hour pedaling a tank, a puppy race car, and flying my horse around the mountains. I liked the distractions and challenges of bike gaming, too. But I didn’t like steering at all. Leaning made me borderline nauseous, and took getting used to.
In fact, in some ways, I’d prefer a biking game that just used a TV instead of a VR helmet. Sweat and VR helmets do not mix nicely at all.
Samsung smartwatch concept projects an interface on your hand
Smartwatch makers have tried a few ways to overcome the limitations of a tiny wrist-worn screen, such as gestures, pressure sensitivty or voice commands. Samsung thinks there might be a better way, though: moving the display beyond the watch. It’s applying for a patent on a concept that would project a wearable’s interface on to everything from your hand to the wall. It’d use sensors to detect those outside-of-the-wrist interactions, and it could even detect the geometry of your hand to adapt the interface to that area. You might see extra buttons on your fingers if your palm is open.
Don’t be too quick to toss out your existing smartwatch. Like any other patent, this is more of an idea than a product roadmap. There’s no certainty that Samsung will decide to implement this, or that it even has the technology necessary to make this a reality. Even so, it’s good to see companies still exploring watch input ideas that involve more than just a touchscreen. It’s still a young category, and the chances are that there’s plenty of room for interface breakthroughs.
Via: PhoneArena, The Verge
Software predicts the lifespans of machines by ‘cloning’ them
In some cases, machine breakdowns are more than just inconveniences — in the military, they can spell disaster on the battlefield. Software is quickly eliminating those rude surprises, however. NASA spinoff Sentient Science has been offering DigitalClone, a software tool that predicts failures by ‘cloning’ parts. It uses an understanding of the physics of a given part, such as friction and wear, to determine when that gear is likely to break. The clone is uncannily accurate (Sentient Science has sensors to confirm its data), making it easy to extend the lifespan of a device by replacing parts before there’s a crisis.
The US military is the highest-profile customer at the moment, using DigitalClone in everything from helicopters (such as the Super Stallion you see above) to the F-35. However, it also has some high-profile uses elsewhere, including the Hubble Space Telescope, wind energy turbines and medical implants. This cloning technology isn’t applicable everywhere, and you probably aren’t about to see it used in everyday personal devices. It’s not going to tell you when your smartphone is going to crash, unfortunately. With that in mind, you’ll know who to thank if you see fewer broken vehicles.
4G in India: Everything you need to know
4G is finally going mainstream in India.
India’s mobile market has seen a meteoric rise in the last few years, and it doesn’t look like the growth will abate anytime soon. The country has witnessed a 23% increase in phone sales in Q1 2016, and it is estimated that over a billion phones will be sold by 2020. A key part of that vision is 4G connectivity, which has been rolling out in phases since 2012.
In addition to increasing phone sales, an estimated nine crore (90,000,000) subscribers will use 4G services in India by 2018, and as such there’s a huge potential for carriers to upgrade their infrastructure to support 4G. With Reliance Jio set to enter the market with its pan-India 4G license, the segment is slated for its largest expansion yet this year.
4G bands and frequencies
When compared to 3G, 4G offers greater bandwidth at a lower latency, with downloads quoted in the vicinity of 45Mbps. However, receiving those speeds is entirely reliant on network connectivity and congestion, which was a major issue during the 3G rollout. Carriers often saw a high amount of congestion on their networks, which meant that most customers never saw the claimed download speeds. This time around, carriers are looking to mitigate the issue of congestion by investing heavily in infrastructure. That said, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll actually see the claimed download seeds. For instance, although Airtel offers 4G in Hyderabad, the bandwidth is only marginally higher than what you get on 3G.
If you’re looking to buy a 4G phone in India, look for Bands 3, 5, and 40.
Indian carriers are leveraging both TDD-LTE and FDD-LTE standards to offer 4G connectivity in the country. The government auctions spectrum to the carriers for a duration of twenty years, with the most recent auction netting over $16 billion in revenue. There is an auction slated for later this year, where the government will make additional spectrum in the 700MHz frequency. The low-frequency band is attracting attention from carriers, as it offers a wider range and is unaffected by buildings, whereas higher frequency bands such as 2300MHz can transfer more bandwidth over a smaller area.
Band 3 (1800MHz) is primarily used for 4G coverage in India, as the spectrum was already in use during the 2G era. Carriers that offer 4G on Band 3 include Aircel, Airtel, Idea, Reliance Communications, Reliance Jio, Telenor, Vodafone, and Videocon.
Band 40 (2300MHz) is the second frequency on which carriers offer 4G connectivity. The government had auctioned airwaves in this spectrum to Aircel, Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Tikona in 2010. Reliance’s pan-India network will primarily rely on the 2300MHz frequency for cellular coverage.
Band 5 (850MHz) will be used by Reliance Jio, which will be used by the carrier 10MHz in ten circles. If you’re interested in purchasing a handset to access 4G connectivity, make sure the phone supports Bands 3, 5, and 40.
Carriers and their circles
India’s 29 states and seven union territories are broken down into 22 telecom circles, which are largely defined by state boundaries. Moving between circles incurs roaming charges for calls and texts, which is a main reason why phones with two SIM card slots are preferred in the country. Having two SIM slots available makes it that much more convenient for those traveling between two circles to cut down on charges. Here’s the breakdown of the telecom circles in India:
- Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
- Bihar & Jharkhand
- Gujarat and Daman and Diu
- Himachal Pradesh
- Jammu and Kashmir
- Kerala and Lakshadweep
- Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
- Maharashtra and Goa
- North East (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura)
- Tamil Nadu
- Uttar Pradesh (East)
- Uttar Pradesh (West) and Uttarakhand
- West Bengal
Airtel was the first to offer 4G services in India all the way back in 2012. Dubbed the “widest 4G network” in India, Airtel is offering 4G in over 350 cities across 15 circles. The carrier operates on the 2300MHz frequency and has access to 20MHz of bandwidth, along with a license to offer data on the 1800MHz frequency in six circles. Being the first to launch 4G has led to Airtel netting a userbase of over 2.5 million subscribers as of the first quarter of 2016. The carrier has extended its 4G network 15 kilometers off the coastline at the behest of the Indian Navy.
On the 2300MHz frequency, Airtel has a license in eight out of 22 circles in India (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana, Kerala, and Punjab) and has recently acquired access to Aircel’s spectrum in eight additional circles: Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, North East, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha. The move puts Airtel in a much better position to face the imminent arrival of Reliance Jio.
As an introductory offer, Airtel is offering 4G connectivity at 3G tariffs. If you’re using the carrier’s 3G data plans, you can make the switch to a 4G SIM and continue using your existing plan. To know more about getting your 4G SIM, head to Airtel’s microsite.
Airtel also offers its own suite of music, movie, and game streaming apps on Android and iOS, dubbed Wynk. You can choose to subscribe to Wynk separately for ₹99 a month, or buy a bundled plan that offers these services for free. For instance, 1GB of 4G data combined with a 28-day subscription to Wynk Music (including unlimited song downloads) currently costs ₹279, whereas a standalone data plan costs ₹259. In essence, you’re getting Wynk Music for just ₹20.
If you’re looking to make the switch to Airtel’s 4G network, head down to the link below to see the coverage and tariff for your locale.
See at Airtel
Reliance Jio has the most amount of liberalized spectrum among Indian carriers, with a nationwide license on the 2300MHz frequency, along with airwaves in the 1800MHz band and 10MHz spectrum in the 850MHz frequency in ten circles: Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, North East, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh (East). The carrier is looking to create an integrated 4G network that leverages all three frequencies to provide seamless connectivity.
The carrier was slated to launch its 4G network last year, but was met with constant delays. In December 2015, Reliance Jio commenced a soft launch where it made the service accessible to its 100,000 employees. The carrier will is now testing its network capabilities in an invite-only trial, with a full launch planned for December 2016. During the trial, Jio is offering three months of unlimited data, but the caveat is that you have to purchase one of the phones in the vendor’s Lyf series to be eligible to use its 4G network.
One of the key differentiators with Jio’s network is VoLTE, which allows for high-definition voice calls to be placed over the data network. Reliance is also looking to the upcoming 700MHz auction to bolster its voice-based offerings. Using a lower frequency band for VoLTE has significant cost benefits as it reduces the need to install a lot of base towers. Coverage on the 700MHz band is twice that of the 1800MHz band, and four times as much as what you get on the 2300MHz frequency.
Reliance Jio is also investing in its app ecosystem, and is slated to offer digital content services that include streaming music, video-on-demand, and a digital payments solution. Jio has a multi-service operator license, which allows it to introduce live TV as well as television-on-demand services on its network.
Idea uses the 1800MHz for 4G coverage, holding spectrum in ten key circles which culminate to over 60% of the carrier’s revenues: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala and Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Goa, North East, Odisha, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu and Chennai.
The carrier’s coverage indicator offers a city-wise breakdown of where the 4G service is available. If you’re an existing subscriber, you can check out if your location has 4G services by heading to the link below.
See at Idea
Vodafone, Reliance Communications, and BSNL
Vodafone has its 4G services available on the 1800MHz frequency in Kerala, Karnataka, Mumbai, Delhi & NCR, and Kolkata. The carrier is content with playing the waiting game and seeing the demand for 4G before investing in the remaining 17 circles. International roaming is available for Vodafone’s 4G customers when they travel abroad to the U.K., Romania, Spain, and the Netherlands. The carrier has mentioned that more countries will be added to the list shortly.
Reliance Communications — a different entity from Reliance Jio — has signed an agreement to use Jio’s 850MHz frequency in ten circles: Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, North East, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh (East). The carrier will switch its CDMA customers to 4G once the network goes live.
State-run BSNL is also getting into the action, and has announced that it will offer 4G in 14 circles. The network holds 20MHz liberalized broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum in the 2500MHz band.
VoLTE is coming too
As we’ve already mentioned, VoLTE is a key component of Reliance Jio’s 4G service. The carrier partnered with Nokia last year to roll out VoLTE across the country on its network in a deal worth over $100 million, and has mentioned that over 35 phones currently available in the Indian market are eligible to use its VoLTE service.
With voice call quality becoming a significant issue in recent months, carriers will be looking to switch to VoLTE to ensure better service. While there’s no official confirmation, it is being rumored that Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea are also in talks with Nokia over VoLTE.
Airtel will leverage its 4G network for VoLTE, offering the service in areas where it has 4G coverage. The carrier will fall back on 3G and 3G voice-based services in locations where it does not yet offer 4G.
What about phones?
The momentum is not limited to carriers, but has also made its way to the handset ecosystem. Most phones sold in India now offer LTE as standard, even in the budget segment. There are a slew of phones available for as low as ₹4,500 that allow you to connect to 4G networks. The budget segment will be the key for 4G proliferation, as that is where a majority of sales occur.
The aggressive expansion by Airtel and Idea means that 4G services are no longer limited to a few cities in the country. And with Jio set to enter the segment with its pan-India coverage, 2016 is the year when 4G becomes mainstream.