2023 is a crucial year for the Indian telecom industry. Several things that will potentially affect millions of people across the country will happen. 2022 will forever be the year which introduced India to 5G. But it is 2023 that will be the game-changing year and will set the tone for the sector for many years to come. Everyone's eyes are on what is happening with Vodafone Idea (Vi). In addition, BSNL's promise to roll out 4G and 5G will be tested this year. Then, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are competing to roll out 5G faster in different regions of the country. Potentially, we could see the launch of 5G tariffs in 2023.
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Vodafone Idea will be the Focus, and 5G to take a Back Seat
Right now, if you are an investor in the Indian telecom sector, you know that if there's one thing that people are discussing more than 5G - it is Vodafone Idea. The ball is in the court of Vi's promoters. It means that it will be the decision of the promoters that's going to determine the future of the telco. If the promoters decide that they want to infuse further capital into the debt-laden telco, Vi will likely survive as the govt would then go ahead with the equity conversion, and the banks might just issue fresh loans. But without the funds from the promoters, Vi's unlikely to stay afloat.
5G Rollout to Most of India
Now, we are only 10 days into 2023, and we have already seen multiple announcements from Airtel and Jio about the 5G launch. This year is going to be like that only. For months to come, we will likely see several 5G launch announcements, and by the end of the year, most of the country will be covered with 5G networks. Jio has aimed at December 2023 to bring 5G everywhere in India, while Airtel has targeted the March 2024 mark.
Satcom to Finally Take Off
The private satcom (satellite communications) sector is finally going to take off. At least, that's what it feels like from afar. OneWeb would finish deploying LEO (low-earth-orbit) satellites and start offering commercial services in India. Jio Satellite Communications Ltd also has a GMPCS license now, and it would also likely come into the market and serve in either B2C or B2B category.
But the attention would also be on the satcom spectrum policy that the sector regulator comes up with. Ultimately, it would be the govt that will take the final call on how the spectrum would be allocated to the satcom companies, but whatever the decision will be, would chart the course for years to come for the satcom players in India.
For years now, the launch of BSNL's 4G has been delayed. Now 2023 is expected to be the year when BSNL's 4G will finally be deployed commercially. Well, with BSNL, you never know what to expect. Things never really happen the way they are promised when it comes to BSNL. It would be interesting to see if the relief package finally pays off for BSNL in the Indian market.
Well, there's just so much more that will happen in the coming year. Let's keep the conversation going in the comments section. What do you think will happen in 2023 that will impact the entire Indian telecom industry?