The proliferation of 5G smartphones has already started in India. The year 2020 was sort of a warm-up for the smartphone makers because in 2021, almost every month, multiple new 5G smartphones made their way to the market. But still, with all these 5G products in the market, there’s really no possibility of a 5G network going live in the next six months from now. In fact, if there are significant delays, we might not see commercial 5G networks going live in India till 2023.
That said, the delay is a huge opportunity in disguise for the country. Here’s why it is really good that India wasn’t one of the first adopters of 5G in the world.
Advantages of 5G Delay in India
First and foremost, the value of scale can be truly derived from a market such as India. When the telecom operators in the country make investments into their networks, those investments are not cheap and are not meant for a small number of people.
That is why the telcos always find ways to break even on their investments as early as possible. With more and more people upgrading to 5G supportive smartphones, it will mean that when the telcos launch commercial 5G networks, they will have the opportunity to earn from a large number of users.
If India had gotten its first commercial 5G network in 2020, it would have been too early for the operators to see any significant difference in their revenues. Further, the telcos and the private IT firms have more time to work out the relevant use cases of the 5G networks. In fact, India can learn from the mistakes that the other countries have made with rolling out 5G and can avoid making similar ones.
Time to Make Policies Around 5G Beneficial
It is worth remembering that India wants to become an Aatmanirbhar or self-reliant nation. For that, it was important that India took its time and formulated policies regarding the technology. Also, 5G spectrum pricing was a major issue that both the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had to sort out.
Even the rising satellite communications (satcom) industry is going to play a pivotal role in bringing out the best of 5G. Satcom companies such as OneWeb and Starlink will help the telecom operators in expanding the reach of their 5G networks.
More and more new ecosystem partners are expected to become a part of India’s 5G. This will mean that the competition in the market will be very high, and that will further fuel the hunger for innovation.
Delay in 5G Rollout Gives Opportunity to Focus on 4G
Most importantly, the delay in 5G rollout has given the telcos the opportunity to keep their focus on 4G. India is still yet to see true quality 4G networks. While the operators have invested in additional spectrum this year and enhanced their networks, India is still very far from delivering a seamless 4G experience to users across the country.
The 5G spectrum auctions will only take place after the TRAI has come out with a price recommendation for the airwaves that DoT has requested. So, the 5G delay in India is not at all bad. It works in favour of the nation.