News & Analysis

Close to 90% of Indians Ready for 5G Upgrade

India recently auctioned 5G spectrum and is likely to rollout the service as early as October this year

The euphoria over shifting to the faster 5G networks appears to have taken most of urban India by storm. Consumers appear upbeat around having access to a high speed network that can help with faster downloads and seamless movie watching on smart devices. In fact, a survey says 89% of those polled were eager to make the shift. 

The survey by Ookla, a network intelligence and connectivity insights company, says customers are looking to change over to 5G services that promise about ten times faster connectivity speeds than existing 4G services with affordability and coverage being the other aspects. They believe these could also work as early challenges as service providers set up the network. 

However, they do sound a note of warning over the higher costs that 5G services could entail with more than a quarter of those who aren’t keen to upgrade believing that the tariff would be way beyond their means. A quarter of those surveyed also believe that lack of knowledge around 5G could prove an issue while a similar number still do not have a 5G smartphone. 


Streaming and gaming tops the agenda

While 70% of those surveyed said they would considerably increase video streaming, 68% said mobile gaming would be their key focus area while using 5G services. Readers would recall that the telecom operators had acquired a whopping 44,960 MHz of spectrum in the 26 GHz band that allows high throughput, that is required for streaming and gaming. 

Sylwia Kechiche, Principal Analyst, Enterprise at Ookla says that “mobile users in India are among the most data-intensive users in the world, India’s 4G/LTE networks have become a bottleneck for demand. The promise of 5G is that it will unlock a world of possibilities beyond just a faster network connection.” 

“Now that operators have acquired 5G spectrum, they start their race to become the first operators to go to market with 5G, with some already hinting that 5G deployments will begin in the next few months,” the official says. 


Hardware prices are going down

Further, the Ookla survey points out that adoption will further go up as the cost of 5G hardware decreases and the technology and vendor ecosystem continue to mature. Following the spectrum auction, Bharti Airtel has already contracted Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung to deploy 5G services this month. 

Indian operators’ move to embrace Open radio access network (RAN), the key component of a mobile telecommunication system to connect users, will drive network costs even lower, says the survey adding that another factor could be the 5G device ecosystem where smartphone prices have continuously fallen since the technology was launched. 

The survey says more than half the total respondents claimed to have a 5G handset ready with them, which means the operators already have an existing customer base that could be up for grabs from the day they launch the service. 


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