While launching Airtel's 4G services in Kolkata on Tuesday, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal admitted that 3G services have not been as popular as 2G due to lack of liquidity in the market to invest in the infrastructure and the devices required.
"We will give the environment to the industry to manufacture low cost quality smart phones. But it is the industry which has to deliver. This is the biggest challenge for the industry," he told reporters.
"3G has not delivered because they paid such huge prices for the spectrum and there is no liquidity in the market for them to invest in the infrastructure and the devices to deliver 3G, for which 2G was successful and 3G was not successful."
He hoped that the industry would keep this in mind and "ensure that people of this country have low cost devices".
Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Tuesday became the first telecom operator to launch broadband wireless access (BWA) services based on 4G technology in the country.
The high speed service was inaugurated by Sibal.
A successor to the 3G and 2G families, 4G is expected to be five times quicker than 3G services. It would offer services such as high-definition mobile TV and video conferencing.
Asked when the 4G will be rolled out in other cities, the company's Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal said: "We are working very fast to launch in the other circles that we have. Hopefully, within this month it will be launched in Bangalore, within weeks followed by Pune, and then Chandigarh."
Airtel, which had bagged BWA spectrum in four telecom circles - Kolkata, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka - for Rs 3,314.36 crore in 2010, selected Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE to manage its services in Kolkata.