4G straddles phone and tablet
In 2015, 4G is way to go in India!

If you use your phone  to surf  the Net and  stream video, 4G is the way to go.. and it will cost less than Rs 10,000

Bangalore, January 26 2015
Vijay: Aaj mere paas paisa hai, bangla hai, gaadi hai, naukar hai, bank balance hai, aur tumhare paas kya hai?
Ravi: Mere paas 4G hai! "
It is 40 years since Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor mouthed that classic exchange.  In the event of a remake   of  'Deewar' in today's more materialistic world,  is it too fanciful to imagine a zippy mobile connection replacing  'maa'  on one's  must-have list?  
4G, the 4th era  in mobile communication,  now  touches  phone users in 10 states in India  -- and by mid 2015,  will likely cover the country.  Is it the big deal it is made out to be?  Let's do a reality check.
In theory, 4G -- or the avatar that is being rolled out in India, LTE or Long Term Evaluation -- is five times faster than 3G, with top download speeds  of 100 MBPS  ( upload speeds are half of this). Theoretically this should be about 5 times faster than what we have been able to achieve with 3G.   In practice,   the best speeds I have experienced with a 4G data dongle over one year of  sustained use,  is 10-12 MBPS.    On phones,  service providers say we can expect to attain  download speeds of 40 MBPS, but in practice this may degrade because  speeds depend very much on how many other customers are connecting at the same time. So for starters, let's  discount the hype about dizzy speeds and  lighting downloads.Conservatively, we can expect a 4G phone in India to   load a YouTube video or a Facebook news feed -- or your GMail account in half the time that it took with a 3G device.
That said, it makes sense to  go in for a 4G phone if you are contemplating a new purchase, because it will give you a small but critical edge,  when it comes to doing online money transactions, reducing the risk of  a frozen screen in those critical seconds  after entering your credit card number. 
And since our friends seem increasingly to be sending us  pixel-heavy files of their   baraat  or birthday   videos, a 4G connection will certainly reduce the frequency of those  annoying pauses amidst the streaming. If you are one of those who only use your phone for voice calls and SMS, 4G will be no big deal -- but for any one  who   uses the phone to access the Internet in any measure, 4G is the way to go
4G services in India

  • Airtel launched its first 4G data   networks  way back in  2012 -- in Kolkata,  Pune and Bengaluru.  In 2015, it has  opened the service to 4G voice,   on phones across some 17 cities in Karnataka, Punjab,  Chandigarh, Maharashtra and Bengal. 
  • Aircel 's 4G services already cover  Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh/Telengana, Assam, Bihar and  J&K.  Tikona's 4G spectrum   covers Gujarat, Rajasthan,  Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, but the company has not yet launched its 4G services.
  • Reliance is expected to  go  pan-India with 4G services when it launches its Jiyo service sometime this year.  We can expect  India to be blanketed with 4G by end 2015.  
  • BSNL, nation-wide  and Augere (  in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) can also be expected to go 4G this year.

The 4G subscriber base is expected to reach 10-15 million by December 2015 in the country, estimates  consultancy firm PwC. 
The clinching argument for upgrading to 4G is this: cost is no longer a stumbling block. Handset makers have launched a number of 4G phones below the lakshman rekha of Rs 10,000 --Xiaomi's Redmi Note, which Airtel is selling with its 4G SIM; Lenovo' A6000, currently the cheapest 4G phone in India at Rs 6999, the Micomax Yu Yureka; Microsoft's Lumia 638.  But if you are bringing back a 4G phone from a trip abroad, be warned that in India, 4G is being rolled out only in 2 bands    Band 3 (1800 MHz)  and  Band 40 (2300 MHz); other nations use different frequencies and their handsets  may not work here.
Do see our Product Pulse section for reviews of two 4G phones -- one affordable (  from Airtel) and one premium.