Vodafone Idea (Vi) has countered Jio's stance on the phase-out of legacy technologies, specifically 2G and 3G networks, by suggesting that the government should formulate a policy regarding the same. This response was submitted in counter comments to TRAI's consultation paper on "Digital Transformation through the 5G Ecosystem."
Vi's Counter to Jio's Position
In its counter, Vodafone Idea, while quoting the comments of stakeholders, argued that such comments and demands are rhetorical in nature and ignore the severe impact on existing customers from a network shutdown through regulatory mandates.
Vi pointed out that 2G networks primarily serve customers with feature phones who may be unable to switch to smartphones due to the high cost of purchasing new devices. The telco also emphasised the substantial number of customers still reliant on 2G networks.
Vi pointed out that 2G networks primarily provide coverage to customers who still use feature phones and are unable to migrate to smartphones due to the cost of purchasing new handsets. The telco also emphasised the substantial number of customers still served by 2G networks.
Regarding 3G networks, Vi stated that they are being gradually phased out across different circles depending on the number of 3G-specific devices still utilising the network for accessing 3G services. Furthermore, Vi responded by stating that the market itself is determining the optimal course and timeline for the shutdown of networks based on consumer needs.
3G Network Shutdown Update
During its Q3 FY24 earnings call, Vi confirmed that it has completely shut down 3G networks in five circles, namely Maharashtra, Gujarat, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Andhra Pradesh.
Vi's Insights on Legacy Network Usage
Vi further highlighted the extensive use of 2G networks in mass enterprise deployments and IoT devices such as Smart Metering, ATMs, and PoS devices. Vi emphasised that replacing such devices with 4G/5G-capable ones would be a mammoth task.
Discussing the potential impact of a regulatory mandate for the shutdown of 2G services, Vi warned that it could exclude low-income and marginalised consumers from accessing basic telecom services, as well as affect IoT devices like PoS systems and ATMs.
Vi also pointed out that the auction norms provide a technology-neutral spectrum, meaning that any regulatory mandate to shut down a particular technology would contradict these norms.
Therefore, Vodafone Idea urged TRAI to dismiss any rhetorical comments regarding a sunset date for legacy technologies and advised against recommending any regulatory mandates that could inconvenience the public.