Delhi, Mumbai may lead as Jio eyes 5G launch in 9 cities by January

Telecom vendors say they do not see any hindrance in the supply of the initial requirement of 5G radios

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Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has publicly said that he expects 5G roll-out by October.
Surajeet Das Gupta New Delhi
3 min read Last Updated : Aug 03 2022 | 6:06 AM IST
Reliance Jio is considering plans to offer 5G services in nine cities in the country by January 2023, probably starting with Delhi and Mumbai sometime later this year, said sources who have held discussions with the telecom player. The other cities are Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jamnagar, Ahmedabad, and Lucknow.
 
Telecom vendors say they do not see any hindrance in the supply of the initial requirement of 5G radios. By March next year, they estimate, 5G radios would cover 70,000-72,000 sites across the country, or around 10 per cent of the existing towers.

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“We expect as many as 3,000-4,000 sites to be equipped with 5G radios by each of the three operators every month,” a senior executive of a telecom vendor says.
 
Jio, however, did not comment on its 5G-launch plans.
 
Technical service providers (TSPs) and vendors say that based on their feedback, most telecom firms are looking to launch 5G services in the top 5-7 cities initially. Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has publicly said that he expects 5G roll-out by October.
 
Telecom vendors say the launch of 5G services can be hastened as some of them have manufacturing facilities in the country. 


Nokia and Ericsson, for instance, already manufacture 5G radios. The two companies have also signed up for the Centre’s production-linked incentive scheme. Ericsson is expected to ramp up its capacity to meet the Indian 5G demand.  
 
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are expected to launch their 5G services on the 3.5-Ghz band, while Jio will combine the mid band with the 700-MHz band to increase its coverage of 5G.
 
Currently, there are hardly any 5G phones that are powered by the millimetre band, but chipmakers are hopeful that would be available by next year. However, their prices will be $30-40 higher than normal 5G working on 3.5 GHZ and 700 MHz. The millimeter band is expected to be used more for fixed wireless access and for enterprise solutions.
 
Work on the 5G roll-out has been going on for a while, with telcos getting their towers ready with power back-ups and backhaul to carry larger bandwidth. And the government allowing allotment of two carriers of 250 MHz each in the E band just before auctions to telecom companies for backhaul (in the interim before they decide to auction it or give it at an administrative price) between tower to tower will remove one major hurdle for 5G, which comes with huge  bandwidth.  
 
Telcos say that in the initial stages, the concentration will be on cities which have a reasonable population of 5G devices. The penetration of 5G phones is at 7 per cent of the total mobile device base at present.

However, according to executives in Qualcomm, one of the largest designers of chips for mobile phones, 30 per cent of all incremental sales of smartphones in 2022 would be powered by 5G. There is already a captive 100 million subscriber base with 5G phones even before the services are launched. This will be tapped first, say telcos.

Next-gen connectivity
 
  • Other telcos are looking at rolling out 5G services in 5-7 cities initially
  • By March next year, operators will together have 75,000 sites powered by 5G, vendors say
  • There are already 100 million customers with 5G phones and they can be tapped
  • Both Nokia and Ericsson have factories in India and can ramp up production of 5G radios and other equipment 

Topics :5G in IndiaReliance Jio

First Published: Aug 03 2022 | 6:06 AM IST

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