It appears as if 5G prepaid plans in India won't launch for quite a bit of time. The Indian telecom service providers (TSPs) are not charging anything extra or different from their 4G users to consume 5G. Yes, Jio has a condition that you have to recharge with a minimum of Rs 239 to get the 5G invite, Airtel has none. With Airtel, you just need to have an active SIM with an active plan, no minimum recharge required, and you will be able to consume 5G. But for both the operators, a few things apply in the same manner. Customers of Airtel and Jio both need a 5G smartphone and need to be under the 5G coverage to consume 5G services.
Why Telcos Won't Launch 5G Tariffs Anytime Soon?
Launching 5G tariffs right now would seem to be a premature move from the telcos. It would in fact be better for them to let users stay on the 5G networks for no additional cost for a bit of time and generate a larger picture of behaviour pattern of the users. The result of collecting this usage data and analysing it would be a better idea of what the consumers are actually looking for. This would enable telcos to come up with tariffs that are actually wanted by the consumers.
To add to this, not many consumers would want to pay anything extra right away for 5G as 4G is still relevant for most of the consumer applications. 5G's use cases tell you that consumers aren't going to benefit directly from 5G in a significant manner right away. Another reason why launching 5G tariffs right now and asking users to subscribe to them would be premature from the telcos is a lack of significant 5G coverage. There are only a handful of cities which are covered with 5G right now and neither of them are also even full covered.
Airtel has completed covering 14 cities in India with its 5G networks. The latest to be covered with Airtel's 5G was Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Industry experts believe that launching 5G tariffs at a slightly above margin then 4G tariffs would not create any positive difference in the business of the TSPs. It is because not many require 5G absolutely, and thus, the uptake of 5G tariffs would be so low that it would not make any impact in the average revenue per user (ARPU) figure.