Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 5G services across 13 cities in India at an event today, though only Airtel users will get to use it immediately.
The top players -- Mukesh Ambani of Reliance, Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Airtel, and Kumar Mangalam Birla of Vodafone Idea -- will start with select cities but have ambitious targets for nationwide coverage.
Mukesh Ambani, head of the Reliance group which owns Jio, announced that his telecom firm will launch 5G services across the country by December 2023. He said Jio is rapidly progressing to roll out 5G services within this month.
India's biggest ever auction of telecom spectrum held recently had received a record Rs 1.5 lakh crore of bids, with Mukesh Ambani's Jio cornering nearly half of all the airwaves sold with a Rs 88,078 crore bid. RIL during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) confirmed that it would launch in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata by Diwali this year. It also plans to bring more affordable 5G phones to the market in partnership with Google.
Bharti Airtel is launching 5G services in eight cities, including four metros, on Saturday and will progressively cover the entire country by March 2024, its Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said. The company had said in its June quarter earnings conference that it planned to cover the whole of India with its 5G coverage by 2024. Airtel also said that its SIM cards are 5G-enabled and would function flawlessly on 5G handsets.
Speaking at the IMC 2022, Sunil Bharti Mittal said the nation's oldest private telecom operator is launching 5G mobile services in eight major cities and will cover most parts by March 2023 and the entire country by March 2024. He mentioned Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, and Bangalore in his speech.
According to a senior company official, Airtel 5G services will be available at existing 4G rates and a new tariff for 5G will be announced after some time, news agency PTI reported. The officer said the 5G services are also being launched in Chennai, Hyderabad and Siliguri.
Vodafone Idea, without revealing a fixed timeline, said it will leverage its strong presence in rural India, enterprise customers and tech partners as well as global expertise of Vodafone Group for progressively rolling out 5G network and services.
Vodafone Idea had earlier announced that it has partnered with smartphone giant OnePlus to make 5G smartphones accessible to users in India.
The government has set a target of 80 per cent 5G coverage in a short timeframe, Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw had earlier said.
Addressing an industry event in the national capital recently, Mr Vaishnaw had said, "the journey of 5G is going to be very exciting and noted that many countries took multiple years to reach 40 per cent to 50 per cent coverage. But we are targeting a very aggressive timeline and the Government has given a target of 80 per cent coverage in a short time frame, and we should definitely cover at least 80 per cent in a very short timeframe."