Chinese smartphone brands iQOO and Realme have recently launched their 5G ready devices, the iQOO 3 5G and Realme X50 Pro 5G respectively. While the brands are flashing 5G support everywhere, as of now this seems like a marketing gimmick at least in countries like India. The top three telecom operators in the country, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are still not ready to provide the faster network to the consumers. With network operators not having the spectrum and equipment ready, this raises a very frequently asked question - "Is India 5G ready?"
In the road to finding an answer to that question, there are other questions that tend to pop up like "How much would 5G ready devices cost?", "Which operator will be the first to bring 5G", "By when can we expect the technology to be ready in India" and much more. Hence, read below to know everything about 5G in India.
What is 5G?
In simple words, 5G is the next generation of wireless mobile communication and it aims to eventually replace 4G LTE. The next-generation network aims to bring significantly faster download and upload speeds. Apart from the improved speeds, the network will also solve the latency issues we have seen on 4G.
While that sounds simple, 5G is a lot more than that to understand. The next-generation network works on three types of bands, namely, mmWave high-band, mid-band, and low-band. The mmWave high band is the best form of 5G, which brings up to 10 times faster speeds when compared to 4G and also slaps in extremely low latency. This means you can download a movie on Netflix in high res within a matter of seconds.
The next is the mid-band 5G, which only brings six times faster download and upload speeds than LTE. It brings in better network coverage area but at the cost of lower speeds.
Lastly, there is low-band 5G, which offers just a 20 percent improvement over 4G in terms of speeds. However, it keeps brings in larger network coverage and much better wall penetration capabilities.
What about 5G ready smartphones?
Smartphone brands have already started launching 5G smartphones in India. Realme X50 Pro 5G and iQOO 3 5G have arrived just a few weeks after 2020 kicked off. Even Samsung has launched the Galaxy S20 series with 5G support in select regions and the company can bring those devices to India as soon as the technology is ready. However, these smartphones are priced way above Rs. 30,000 in a price-sensitive market like India where most people look for phones in the sub-Rs 20,000 categories.
As this is just a start, we could see 5G landing in devices priced even under Rs. 20,000 by the end of the year. Huawei recently said that we can expect 5G phones to come under USD 150 (Rs. 11,000) by the end of 2020.
What about network operators?
TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has already rolled out 5G trials in India for four companies including Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson and Nokia. These companies are now working closely with Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio to test out 5G across the country.
As for Jio, Mr. Mukesh Ambani, at the Namaste Trump event, said that they are already working on 5G but they won't be getting equipment from a Chinese brand such as Huawei. This also means that ZTE is out of the picture as far as Jio is concerned. So, Jio is either working with Nokia or Ericsson to setup 5G across the country.
Even if these telecom operators are ready with the equipment, they cannot bring 5G to the consumers until they buy the 5G spectrum. In my opinion, Jio will be the first one to come up with a 5G network as Vodafone Idea and Airtel still struggling to pay their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues.
When will India be 5G ready?
While we have already started witnessing 5G ready devices, all we need to wait for is the network operators to get ready. By the end of 2020, we can expect at least one network to bring 5G support in major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. However, it might even get as late as 2022 when most of the Indian smartphone consumers switch towards 5G.