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India’s 5G Story Kicks Off With Many Promises

Prime Minister Modi kicked off India's 5G journey in the company of the three major players who made several promises

India may have initially lagged behind other countries in upgrading its mobile network, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi described it as a new era where the 5G technology would enable India to move beyond being a consumer of technology to playing an active role in its development as well as implementation. 

At an event attended by more than 2000 people made up of top telecom industry leaders, government officials and other stakeholders, Modi took time off to visit the stalls set up by various companies including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea. He also witnessed several use case demonstrations of the new technology. 

The Prime Minister witnessed the virtual reality at the Jio pavilion and moved thereafter to those of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Swedish equipment manufacturer Ericsson and the pavilion set up by the Center for Development of Telematics (C-DOT). 


A fast-paced implementation on the anvil

The IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said though the target was to cover 200 cities, the momentum that the project had picked up, they were on course to cover 600 cities over the next six months. He said the idea is to cover between 80 to 90% of the country within two years and confirmed that state-owned BSNL too would be rolling out 5G services by August next. He said the focus was on developing alternatives to the radio networks as well as making telecom equipment besides providing test-beds for 5G across 60 universities in the country. 


The race to launch is already underway

As for the key players participating in India’s 5G journey, Sunil Bharti Mittal of Airtel announced that they were now offering 5G services in eight cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, but did not mention the tariff plans. On their part, Reliance Jio announced that they would commence 5G services in the metro cities around Diwali – which falls on October 24. 

Meanwhile, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani said consumers would have access to top-notch 5G services at affordable rates that were comparable to the best in the world. On his part, Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group and co-promoter of the Vodafone-Idea sought continued policy support to drive the 5G broadband revolution. 

While Sunil Mittal expressed confidence of covering the entire country by 2024, Ambani batted for a robust BSNL in the mix saying government’s recent efforts to strengthen the state-owned entity would provide the balance through the presence of a government entity in what is being perceived as a strategic sector. 


Developing a $40 trillion economy 

Ambani felt that 5G can power India’s emergence as the world’s intelligence capital and help the country become a major exporter of high value-added digital solutions and services that could potentially pave the way to India becoming a $40 trillion economy by 2047, when the country marks the 100th year of its independence. 

The aims are lofty and the early action also suggests that the telecom companies are leaving no stones unturned towards meeting the Amrit Kaal goals set by the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech this year. The only question now is how affordable the 5G services would be and what percentage of users would migrate to high-speed mobile internet. 

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