5G is here finally. Bharti Airtel became the first operator to launch the fifth generation mobile network services in eight cities, including Delhi and Calcutta, from Saturday, while Reliance Jio plans to launch its services before Diwali in four metros.
The two operators plan to cover the country by March 2024. Cash-strapped Vodafone Idea has not yet given any definite timeline for 5G launch.
No telco has so far announced their 5G tariff plans in the country. At India Mobile Congress 2022, Reliance Jio chairman Akash Ambani said Jio “will make it very affordable, it should be affordable for every Indian — right from device to service”.
Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea demonstrated use cases of 5G technology for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show the potential of 5G technology in India. Modi in his keynote address at the sixth edition of India Mobile Congress (IMC) said, “The new India will not remain a mere consumer of technology, but India will play an active role in the development and implementation of that technology."
He said India was dependent on other countries for 2G, 3G and 4G technologies. But with 5G, India has created a new history.
“With 5G, India is setting a global standard in telecom technology for the first time,” he remarked.
At the event, the Prime Minister tried his hand at operating a driving simulator that uses 5G technology to run a remote-controlled car in Europe. He also spoke to industry representatives about the development of end-to-end 5G technology and how it can help bridge the gap for healthcare delivery and education.
Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries (RIL), said Jio will deliver the fifth-generation (5G) mobile network to every city, town, village and taluka across India by December 2023-end.
“India may have started late, but it will finish first by ensuring 5G rollout across the nation,” he said.
To begin with, Jio will launch 5G services in four metro cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai. Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Enterprises, said pan-India 5G services will be rolled out by March 2024.
“Bharti Airtel is working with speed and courage to bring 5G services to many cities by March 2023, and the entire country by March 2024,” said Mittal.
Kumar Mangalam Birla, who owns a minority stake in Vodafone Idea, said the company will leverage its strong presence in rural India and network of technology partners to roll out 5G services in “the coming period.”