Ever since the 5G spectrum bidding process’ completion, the telecom industry seems to be competing over who will launch 5G first. And according to the Department of Telecom (DoT), it looks like 5G will be rolled out to 13 cities during the first phase. That said, let us take a look at where 5G will be available and what service providers have to say on the matter.
Talking about availability, 5G will be rolled out to 13 Indian cities which include Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune, Gandhinagar, Ahemdabad and Jamnagar in the first phase, followed by a nationwide rollout. The Department of Telecom said it earned over Rs 1,50,173 crore during the 5G spectrum auction.
Airtel spent around Rs 43,084 crore and has paid instalments for the next four years amounting to Rs 8,312.4 crore. The company also said it will be launching 5G before the end of August. ‘This upfront payment of 4 years allows us to drive 5G rollout in a concerted manner given our operating free cash flow. Airtel also has access to Rs 15,740.5 Cr in capital from the rights issue which is yet to be called’, Gopal Vittai, MD and CEO, Bharti Aitel Ltd, said in a press release.
The company is currently working with Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson as network partners to set up and deliver 5G services in the country. It also said that towns and key rural areas will be covered by the end of March 2024.
Vodafone-Idea also spent Rs 18,800 crore on the 5G auction which includes radiowaves in the mid-band and spectrum in the 26GHz band. However, a recent report suggests that the service provider plans to charge a premium for the service, but will also provide more data. While Vodafone is yet to officially announce when 5G will be available, some subscribers in the Delhi-NCR region have received an SMS indicating that the service will be available in the region in the coming days.
Coming to Reliance Jio, the company is expected to make an announcement regarding 5G availability during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) event. It is interesting to note that Reliance Jio emerged as the biggest spender during the 5G spectrum auction, spending Rs 88,078 crore, which accounted for somewhere around 59 per cent of the total revenue generated through the auction.
The government has already issued spectrum assignment letters, which means telecom service providers can start rolling out 5G whenever they are ready.