Telecom giants in India are likely to push back 5G network deployments by at least five years due to exorbitant base prices, insufficient spectrum and the unavailability of newer bands, Rajan S Mathews, director-general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), has said. The comment comes at a time when there is unrest in the telecom industry in the country and the rest of the world has already started a transition from 4G to the high-speed 5G networks.
‘We will push out 5G for at least five years. That’s the operator perspective,’ Mathews said, adding that first, there was a pricing problem, and now the quantum issue has surfaced. ‘Pricing originally started off as a problem for the industry. With the Rs 492 crore for 1 MHz, most operators said it was not a viable proposition given the debt and international prices,’ The Economic Times quoted Mathews as saying.
Two major telecom giants, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL), have announced that they would increase the prices of their mobile services from December. Mobile data charges in India are by far the cheapest in the world even as the demand for mobile data services continue to grow rapidly. Airtel and Vodafone Idea have said that in order to cut losses, and to continue to invest in the digital infrastructure and maintain the quality standards of services, they will have to increase the rates of the services.
The timeline of 5G rollout, however, was different in Ericsson Mobility Report. According to the Swedish telecommunications giant, 5G subscriptions in India are expected to become available in 2022. It also said that these subscriptions will represent 11 per cent of the total mobile subscriptions at the end of 2025 in India. Ericsson also said that that by 2025, 500 million additional smartphone users are expected in India and total traffic is projected to triple, reaching 22 Exabyte (EB) per month in 2025.