Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have launched 5G network services in the nation ahead of the 5G launch on October 1, 2022, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both the telcos are currently very low-key with their 5G rollout. Jio has branded its 5G - 'True 5G' while Airtel has branded its 5G as '5G Plus'. At the end of the day, these are not technical terms, but only branding plays from the operators. It would be interesting to see what name Vodafone Idea will go with.
Jio Announces Beta 5G; Airtel Keeps Quiet About Whether Beta or Not
Jio is in the beta phase with its 5G, while Airtel hasn't said anything about the beta. Airtel has said that its 5G Plus services will be available for customers in eight cities. What's interesting here is that it has been days since Jio and Airtel announced 5G services for the public, but there's hardly anyone who has got to experience it as a consumer from a commercial network.
Airtel and Jio are Simply Trying to Get an Edge Over Each Other
It looks like both telcos were just trying not to stay behind each other. Because Airtel announced 5G on October 1, 2022, Jio could have pushed its announcement back to Dussehra. It is worth noting that Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, had said that Jio's 5G services would be available around Diwali this year. But Jio launched 5G way before, during the time of Dussehra. Whether this was the original plan of the telco or not, we would never know.
Jio Said it would Offer Invites, But Where are They?
Reliance Jio said that its 5G services would be only offered to the users on an invitation basis. But where are the invites, and where is the beta 5G network? It is the same with Airtel. The telco may have announced 5G in a rush on October 1 just to get a one-up on Jio. Again, I can't confirm this, but from afar, the 5G promise of both the telcos looks so weak right now. It just feels like a branding play to lure customers and keep them engaged in a hopeful and exciting future.
Airtel's Launch of 5G in Eight Cities and Jio's 5G Launch in Four Cities Seems Like a Premature Statement
Airtel's 5G networks are live in some locations. But the thing is, switching on a few sites and calling it a commercial 5G rollout seems premature. For example, if a telco says that it has launched 5G in Delhi but is only offering it in one or two locations, then it is not really a launch per se; it is more like a testing process before a wider launch can take place! This example applies to both Jio and Airtel.
Wide-Scale 5G Rollout Not Possible Right Away
Of course, no one expects these operators to launch 5G in a wide-scale manner right away. The infrastructure is simply not there, and it wouldn't be worth the investment. But calling it a 5G launch and branding it as something big in a way to lure customers is misleading them to a certain extent. So, at the end of the day, Jio's True 5G, which is based on 5G SA and Airtel's 5G Plus, which is based on 5G NSA, are both 5G at the end of the day and are both capable of delivering high speeds to users. Until the time a wide-scale launch takes place, it would be hard to comment on which is better. To customers, a piece of simple advice would be to not give into these branding plays and get too excited about 5G right now. As a consumer, push the telcos to deliver better 4G first.