InvestorQ : Why is 5G not being launched despite claims that Airtel and Jio are 5G ready?
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Why is 5G not being launched despite claims that Airtel and Jio are 5G ready?

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Tisha Malhotra answered.
1 month ago
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If there is one thing that is worrying the government, it is that while the telecom networks may be 5G ready, the telecom hardware and software providers are not. That is what is delaying the launch of 5G in India. For example, there has been a lot of hype over 5G launch in India and Bharti Airtel has taken the lead. But launch of 5G is not just about the telecom service provider being ready. Firstly, the hardware has to be 5G enabled. Then there is the need for the phone companies to make changes to their software and download the necessary packets to ensure 5G works fine. That has not bene happening in sync.

Now the government is getting involved in trying to peg the bells and whistles and ensure that the last mile hitches are resolved. For instance, the Department of Telecom (DOT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) will be meeting more than 2 dozen executives from across telcos and the hardware and software providers to understand the gaps and to goad them to complete the tasks to enable quick launch of the product in India. Typically, project implementation programs face a lot of hassles in the last mile hiccups which can derail or, at least, delay the launch of 5G in India.

That is why the government has been **** bent on seeking the active involvement of smartphone manufacturers to release their firmware upgrades. This is the core required for 5G devices so that they are capable of latching on to such advanced and optimized networks. As of now the telecom service providers have done their part and possibly given their best. However, the handset manufacturers must be in sync and enable telecom service providers to release software FOTA upgrades for all 5G handsets. It is only when this is done that the 5G can actually go live in India. It is in this last mile sync that things are stuck.

Time is running out. Bharti has announced the launch of 5G and Reliance Jio will launch its service in Diwali. Both plan to complete 5G rollout between December 2023 and March 2024. That cannot happen if the basic teams of telcos, hardware and software are not in sync. Today, even smartphone users with 5G-ready handsets are not in a position to use 5G services in Mumbai and Delhi. Here is some encouraging news from Ookla that 51% of their customer samples already had smartphones supporting 5G. India needs Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and Vivo to release updates on time to be 5G ready. Hopefully it should be soon.

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