A Plethora of Use Cases and Opportunities Set to Arise with the Inception of 5G Services in India

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4Q 2022 | IN-6706

On October 1, 2022, India saw the much-awaited launch of 5G services at the annual technology conference, India Mobile Congress (IMC). As anticipated, the metros and suburban cities are going to see the 5G services first followed by the next tier cities in the months to come. Out of the total 72,098 Gigahertz (GHz) of available spectrum, the Department of Telecom (DoT) ended up selling 71% of spectrum to the telecoms players, with Reliance Jio being the largest bidder followed by Airtel and Vodafone Idea. The availability of 5G services in India will open opportunities to ecosystem players with enhanced uses cases and technologies. The implications of 5G in India will bring focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR), looking to gain maximum traction in markets like India.

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Pan-India 5G Rollout to Be Completed by the End of 2024


On October 1, 2022, India saw the much-awaited launch of 5G services at the annual technology conference, India Mobile Congress (IMC). Despite joining the 5G race later than other South Asian countries, the 5G auction ended on August 1, 2022, with some crucial investments (US$19 billion) by leading telecoms players, the majority from Reliance Jio, which spent 88,078 crores (~US$11 billion) to buy spectrum, followed by Airtel and Vodafone Idea, which spent 43.084 crores (~US$5 billion) and 18,799 crores (~US$2 billion), respectively. Another entrant, Adani Data Networks bought spectrum for setting up a private network for captive use only. According to the Department of Telecom (DoT) in India, it looks like 5G will be rolled out in 13 Indian cities in the first wave, followed by a pan-India rollout, which might be completed by the end of 2024.

Limited Use Cases and Infrastructure to Delay the Adoption of 5G Services in India


India, being a different market with diverse market dynamics on a regional level, has a long way to go to assess 5G use cases. From the smartphone Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) point of view, traction of 5G devices is still low, but will gain momentum. ABI Research expects the Indian smartphone market to bringing 40% to 45% of devices with 5G capability by the end of 2022. The 5G journey in India is not going to be as easy as it looks. There is a need for more investment by ecosystem players to scale up production capacity of 5G equipment and telecoms gear for a seamless migration from 4G to 5G. Communication vendors might also face some challenges and delays in setting up the ecosystem as they are still left with Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues to pay to the government.

To be successful, India needs to have convincing 5G use cases available beyond improved high data speeds and low latency rates. 5G is very capable of enabling new types of applications both for consumers and the enterprise, but the broad use cases of 5G will include broadband connectivity, enabling smart cities and real-time critical communication. This will take a long chain of events to reach trials and pilot phases before the ecosystem can be enabled and showcase more products to reach consumers. Also, for Machine-to-Machine (M2M)/Internet of Things (IoT) applications, there is a need for the availability of connected devices, which looks distant for the majority of consumers. Providing connectivity and Internet service in rural India with Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and with the help of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) or Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) needs the deployment of resources that requires huge expenditure. Enterprises, on the other hand, will need far-ranging use cases to justify the money spent on the infrastructure and ecosystem.

Pricing is going to be a key factor as India transitions from 4G to 5G technology. The OEMs currently have 5G-enabled devices available at higher price points in the market compared to prior cellular technology. It is going to take some time for all OEMs to bring 5G devices to lower-price segments and cater to the large population—around 70% accounts for the below-US$200 smartphone price segment in India. Brands like Samsung, Poco (Xiaomi), and realme have already started introducing affordable 5G devices in the Indian market to cater to lower-price segment consumers. Also, tariff charges are likely to be increased by the telecommunication players to reach higher Average Revenue per User (ARPU) after implementing 5G technology, which might affect the speed of network migration in the country.

Building New Growth Sectors and a Digital Ecosystem in the Country


India is the second-largest smartphone market in the world next to China, but use cases are limited in India, as there is not much of an ecosystem available to OEMs. With the inception of 5G in India, this technology will become core for connected devices and apps to run an ecosystem, which will add different kinds of devices in one place, providing more opportunity for OEMs. 5G will support a massive number of devices at the same time, while having the ability to connect to the network simultaneously. The use of data cards and Universal Serial Bus (USB) dongles will see a decline in the country, as the use of mobile hotspot routers and 5G FWA Consumer Premises Equipment (CPE) is expected to become part of ecosystem in the months to come.

Communication vendors are developing infrastructure across industries like smart cities, smart education, gaming, etc., bringing more uses case to consumers. Also, the broadband-like service is the most significant impact of 5G services, and communication providers intend to deploy 5G mobile networks that will deliver services like High-Definition (HD) streaming video. 5G technologies that support eMBB can provide high-speed data service to devices like hotspots that can provide Internet services in rural areas. Smart health, smart education, smart automation, etc. will all see a shift due to the introduction of 5G technology in the ecosystem.

All of these factors will help contribute to the growth of India’s digital economy, while unlocking potential for new opportunities and growth in sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, logistics, finance, etc. Implementing 5G will help modernize the way industries and consumers operate, while creating a massive number of job opportunities in various sectors. Despite all the opportunities and complex tasks that lie ahead, India is set to take its first steps toward 5G, adding to the list of nations with the technology, bringing a much-needed revolution to the connected world.



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