India’s 5G: What to expect from it and how ready we are

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India’s indigenously-built 5G is making waves. The services for the mobile phones were recently launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in select Indian cities, including Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jamnagar, Gandhinagar, Pune, Siliguri, Gurugram and Hyderabad. It is likely to cover the entire nation by 2024.

Soon after the launch, Bharti Airtel commercially launched 5G services while Reliance Jio started beta trials.

On Thursday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: “The 5G that we’ve launched in our country is completely standalone. India can provide 5G infrastructure to other countries as well.” “Our 5G is not imported from anywhere else. It’s our own product,” she underlined.

What is 5G technology all about? And how much is India prepared to adopt it?

WHAT DOES 5G OFFER?

Put simply, 5G is the fifth generation of technology standard for broadband mobile networks. It is the fastest communication network available in the world. While 4G offers speeds of 40-50 Mbps depending on the area and connectivity in India, 5G services would support speeds of 300 Mbps or more. The services will be offered in a phased manner by telecom giants like Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. Airtel has already rolled out its 5G services — Airtel 5G Plus — in eight cities. Jio promises to cover the entire country by December 2023 and Bharti Airtel by March 2024.

5G is expected to improve the functioning of businesses and communication networks, essentially those that depend on internet connectivity. It is hoped that the technology will plug the loopholes and fix the glitches that cause call drops and linkage issues.

Behind the 5G launch is the Digital India movement. It is aimed at boosting primarily three sectors: education, healthcare, and agriculture, along with infrastructure and logistics.

HOW MUCH ARE WE PREPARED?

Who doesn’t want faster and more seamless mobile internet connectivity? Who doesn’t want faster downloading and upgrade to better technology? Probably, we all do. However, the big question is: How much more are we willing to pay for it?

A recent nationwide survey by LocalCircles, India’s leading Community Social Media platform, revealed 43% of the 10,019 respondents indicated a willingness to pay up to 10% more tariff for the new 5G services monthly while 43 per cent were “not willing to pay anything more than current tariff for 3G/4G services”. A total of 2 per cent were prepared to pay between 25-50% more tariff, while 10 per cent of the respondents showed a willingness to pay 10-25% more tariff.

Manish Chatturvedi, a Mumbai-based fashion photographer, told India Today.in, “Those who want faster internet connectivity will opt for 5G services. It all depends on the profession you are in.” He said he already has a mobile phone which is 5G-enabled and “it’s cost-effective, if you look at the larger picture”.

Abhilasha Chakravarty, a media professional based in Indore, pointed out, “We have to keep abreast with the latest technology. Even if I have to pay more, I don’t have any qualms. But it shouldn’t be too high.”

Kamal Grover, a Chandigarh-based advocate, asserted that the government should try ways to lower the prices of 5G mobile services for at least one year. “Once, they get hooked to 5G, they will continue to opt for it even if its price is increased a bit.”

Vaibhav Parwat, a young professional based in Aurangabad, said, “I am ready to pay Rs 500-600 every month for 5G. And it makes sense.”

Most of the current phones/tablets are not likely 5G-compliant. You will have to purchase a device that supports 5G. So, are you willing to go for it and when? Of the 9,965 respondents in another LocalCircles poll in the survey that covered 318 districts, 4% shared plans to buy new suitable devices this year, 12% in the first half of 2023, 8% in the second half of 2023 and 10% hope to buy in 2024. Only 20% said they already have a device that supports 5G.

Almost one in four or 24% respondents shared that they have no plans to buy a new upgraded device in the foreseeable future while another 22% are as yet to make up their mind, suggested the study, which comprised 64% men respondents and 36% women.

Parwat said, “People will slowly move to 5G because 4G speed will get less after some time, just as it happened with 2G and 3G. 5G-enabled mobile devices come in the range of Rs 20,000-25,000. Since mobiles can’t be upgraded, you will have to buy one. ”

HOW ARE PHONE MAKERS PLACED

The operators as well as phone-makers have been asked by the department of telecommunication to update their businesses with the latest technologies.

Chinese phone maker Xiaomi said that all its 5G smartphone models support the network. Most of its devices will start receiving OTA updates by Diwali.

Samsung has said it would roll out 5G across all its devices by mid-November. The Korean handset maker has said that it is working with their operator partners and is committed to rolling out over-the-air (OTA) updates across all its 5G devices by mid-November this year. “We are working with our carrier partners in India to bring the best 5G experience to iPhone users as soon as network validation and testing for quality and performance is completed,” Apple said in a statement recently. Apple said that 5G will be enabled via a software update to iPhone users in December. The upgrade will be for models, including the iPhone 14, 13, 12 and iPhone SE. Airtel’s website showed “Apple yet to update software” for all of Apple iPhones’ 12 to 14 models under its 5G compatible section. “Pixel 7, 7 Pro and Pixel 6a are 5G capable devices. We are actively working with the Indian carriers to enable functionality at the earliest,” said Google in a statement.