Indian telecom operators are rolling out 5G at a rapid pace. India's 5G rollout is something that the whole world is impressed by. The execution has been simply brilliant. But that doesn't mean a revenue upside for the telcos in the near future. While the 5G rollout is quick, its paid adoption is the big question mark. This is primarily because of missing use cases that users urgently or desperately need in their life. For example, even if 5G can enable watching video content in 8K resolution, there's not much content available in 8K, and consumers don't really care beyond a point for the resolution if it is 4K already.
Thus, Indian telecom operators have found another way to increase the adoption of 5G. Both Airtel and Jio are offering 5G at no additional cost to their existing 4G subscriber base. While both are deploying different 5G technology, the support of their 5G has arrived for most smartphones. This is because of partnering with various smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Further, semiconductor makers such as Qualcomm and MediaTek have also played a huge role in enabling smartphones across the world to support 5G.
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The telcos want users to get habituated to using 5G. Jio is offering unlimited 5G data, while Airtel is offering free 5G service to consumers with 4G data packs that exhaust based on the original benefits of the plan. By the time the telcos are done with rolling out 5G to every nook and corner of the nation, users would most likely be used to consuming mobile data at 5G speeds.
This would then help with creating a demand for 5G. In the initial stage, the telcos are only going to invest in the technology and its marketing to drive up adoption. The monetisation part would come at a future stage when there are plenty of users 'demanding' 5G. Right now, 5G is just sort of a new toy for the consumers to play with once to experience it. In case the consumer is getting good 4G speeds, he/she wouldn't want to pay more for 5G right now. Thus, the telcos decided to offer 5G for free to their Indian consumers.
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To monetise 5G from consumers, the most basic path for the telcos would be to introduce new prepaid and postpaid plans. Because 5G consumes a ton of data, the telcos would have to bring plans which come with plenty of bulk data and no small daily limits. For now, the telcos would just want to earn more from 4G. It should not be forgotten that they have already spent a lot of money on building the infrastructure for 4G, and now they wouldn't simply want to jump on the 5G train and ditch 4G.
4G is going to stay relevant for the years to come. Yes, its demand may decline, but nonetheless, it is going to be important. It will be driving revenues for the telecom operators right now. 5G revenues are very much in the future. But the telcos can look to earn money via investments in 5G by getting enterprise clients.