Bharti Airtel launches 5G in India, Jio to launch in Diwali
Airtel will roll out 5G services effectively immediately in 8 cities while its nationwide rollout is expected to be completed by March 2024. Speaking on behalf of Vodafone Idea, Kumar Mangalam Birla also promised to launch 5G services soon, although no firm dates have been committed. Reliance Jio, the largest telecom players in India, plans to launch 5G services officially from Diwali this year and plans to complete the rollout by December 2023. The full rollout of 5G will be completed by Jio before Bharti Airtel, although Airtel will be the first off the block to offer 5G services. Airtel will offer 5G in 8 cities, including the four metros.
These details were disclosed by some of India’s tallest business leaders like Mukesh Ambani, Sunil Bharti Mittal and Kumar Mangalam Birla. All the leaders were speaking at the sixth India Mobile Congress. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had officially launched the 5G services in India on this occasion. Currently, there are 13 cities where 5G can be made available but Airtel will only launch in 8 of these cities on the 01st of October. Bharti plans a big growth by March 2023 and will cover pan India by March 2024.
KM Birla of Vodafone Idea plans to focus a lot more on the rural segment for his 5G services. According to Birla, Vodafone Idea has about 24 crore connected to their networks but what is more remarkable is that 50% of their franchise was in rural India. All the 3 leaders were betting heavily on 5G as a game changer for their future digital offerings. For instance, Sunil Bharti Mittal and Kumar Mangalam Birla stressed on the importance of 5G services in the field of accelerating immersive education, remote health and smart agriculture. They saw 5G more as a means of social inclusion than purely a technological progression for telecom.
Mittal also felt that the launch of 5G services would largely empower the Indian economy in its journey towards becoming a $5 trillion economy. He expects the contribution of the digital economy alone to be nearly $1 trillion in this massive value accretion. Mittal also was fulsome in praise for the government and the speed with which it had moved in enabling 5G in India. The last auctions of 5G spectrum had been a classic example how to conduct a complex auction in a very transparent and speedy manner. Mittal also emphasized that 5G quality of digital infrastructure would also support India’s dreams of a manufacturing hub.
Mittal also had a word of praise reserved for the largest player in the industry, Reliance Jio. According to Mittal, Indian telecom industry had become largely stable and boring by the mid-2010s and it was the launch of Jio that literally goaded players like Bharti to give their best and think out of the box. He also added that Jio had brought in a high degree of competitiveness and urgency to the telecom industry. He also admitted that Bharti had actually given their very best in the last 5 years largely due to the stringent standards set by Mukesh Ambani in the launch of Jio. That was spoken like a hard core professional.
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