Stage set for October launch of 5G telecom services in select cities
04 August 2022
The government has set the stage for the launch of 5G telecom services in the country with the successful completion of spectrum auction and allocation of airwaves scheduled for this month itself.
Once the necessary spectrum is allocated to telecom operators, consumers in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune and towns such as Jamnagar could get access to 5G services, as early as in October, say industry executives.
All three telecom service providers in the country – Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea – have been carrying out test launches of 5G services in limited telecom circles and are now preparing for the actual launch
The three private-sector carriers are looking to launch 5G services in some circles by early October, given that the government has assured to allot airwaves by the middle of August. Operators are expected to start with cities where they have already carried out network tests and trials.
Market leader Reliance Jio Infocomm has carried out tests in nine areas, including Mumbai, Delhi, Jamnagar, Chennai and Bengaluru. Jio anticipates introducing 5G services initially, parent Reliance Industries president Kiran Thomas said during the company’s earnings call last month.
Reliance chairman Akash M Ambani said: "We will celebrate ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ with a pan-India 5G rollout."
Reliance Jio said it was ready for 5G rollout in the shortest period of time.
"Airtel now plans to launch 5G services in every part of the country starting with key cities,” Bharti Airtel said in a media statement.
Vodafone Idea said it actively participated in the just-concluded spectrum auction to strengthen its pan-India 4G coverage and roll out of 5G. The company said it would look at UK parent Vodafone Group for its experience with deploying 5G networks.
Vodafone Idea has carried out tests in Pune and Bharti Airtel in Delhi.
Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has previously said he expected telcos to start rolling out 5G services by September-October.
Commercial launches of 5G networks are planned for the second half of 2022 in India, with enhanced mobile broadband expected to be the initial main use case.
"By the end of the year 2022, the Indian consumers will certainly be able to experience 5G in multiple cities, if they so wish,” he told reporters on the first day of the 5G spectrum auctions on 26 July. He added that India would rollout 5G services much faster as compared to many other geographies.
The Notice Inviting Applications released by the Department of Telecommunications on June 16 has outlined the rollout obligations for each spectrum band. For the 3300 MHz (or the C-band), which has been the most sought-after for effective 5G rollout, telcos must commercially launch 5G services in one city in case of a non-metro licence service area (LSA) by the end of the first year of acquiring spectrum. For metro LSAs, they need to launch 5G services anywhere in the LSA by the end of the first year.
The 5th generation telecom services will be accounting for around 39 per cent of mobile subscriptions in the region at the end of 2027, with about 500 million subscriptions.
"Auction has been completed and in the next few days, till August 10, all formalities including approving and allocating the spectrum will be done," reports quoted Vaishnaw as saying.
"It seems we would be able to launch 5G in the country by October. The ongoing 5G spectrum auction indicates that the country's telecom industry has come a long way in 5G advancements," the minister said, adding that better availability of spectrum will improve the quality of telecom services in the country.