Vodafone Idea (Vi) is in a rough spot with 5G. While the telco has shown a lot of promise with the demonstration of several innovative use cases on its 5G networks, there's no clarity on when it is going to launch 5G. The telco, just like Jio and Airtel, is offering 4G SIMs, which are also 5G enabled. This means that when Vi launches 5G, its customers won't have to upgrade their SIM cards to experience 5G. Vi is allowing customers to order 5G ready SIM. But is this 5G-enabled SIM really going to make any difference for the customers if the telco is unable to launch 5G in the short term?
Vi's 5G SIM is Not Going to Make Any Difference
Vi is likely going to suffer because of the promoters not pushing more capital into the company. The telco is in a tricky situation right now where it can only secure outside investors once the equity conversion from the government takes place so that more clarity can emerge for everyone. However, the government won't proceed with the equity conversion until the time Vi presents a new roadmap for the 5G rollout and business plans. The govt also wants Vi's promoters to pump fresh capital into the telco.
Promoters, including the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) and Vodafone UK, are unlikely to invest more into a business that hasn't generated a return for several years now. Vi's performance metrics aren't good either, and the telco will likely lose more customers to Airtel and Jio as they roll out 5G further into the nation.
Every private telco in India is right now offering 4G SIMs, which are 5G enabled. So there's nothing special about the SIM card from Vi. However, in case you want to consume 4G only for the time being, then Vi can be a great option too. This is primarily because of its benefits heavy prepaid and postpaid plans. A few weeks back, Vodafone Idea announced Vi Max Postpaid plans. Vi Max brought back the REDX plan, with which the customers get international travelling benefits and a lot of OTT (over-the-top) subscriptions.
Right now, the situation is that if Vi isn't able to secure funding by January or February 2023, it will become very hard for the company's survival. Analysts suggest that the government isn't too excited to get a stake in the company until the promoters pump money. As the government stake won't mean much if the company's performance doesn't improve.
When Will Vi Launch 5G?
Vi has said that until the time its funding issues are sorted, it can't really proceed to order equipment from the vendors. Thus, the telco can't comment on when it will be able to launch 5G in India. Vendors wouldn't want to offer credit to the ailing telco right now as its debt mountain is already quite high.
Without any concrete 5G Announcement, just that when a 4G SIM is 5G ready, promoting it under 'Order 5G Ready SIM' doesn't really help Vi in any case.