Even though the 5G era is looming over India, it could be the time of reckoning for telcos. As it stands, only the three existing telecom service providers participated in the 5G spectrum auctions — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and VodafoneIdea. (The fourth participant, Adanis, is not a telecoms player, at least not yet.)
Among the three participants, Airtel and Jio announced that they are ready to launch 5G service in August (probably on August 15th). Financially struggling VodafoneIdea needs to act quickly if it doesn’t want to be left behind as the Indian market seems very interested in 5G services.
According to a report (opens in new tab) by network intelligence and connectivity insights provider Ookla, 89% of consumers want to upgrade to 5G network, while 48% are ready to switch service provider to upgrade to 5G.
Only 20% said they would expect their service providers to upgrade to the 5G network. 14% of respondents intend to take advantage of services after upgrading to a 5G-enabled device and 7% would wait for the current contract period to end. Only 2% stated that they do not intend to upgrade to 5G.
This clearly suggests that the Indian telecoms industry, which has been disrupted by the arrival of Reliance Jio, which offered cheap mobile data, may be in another round of churn. The message for telecom gamers is simple: the fittest and fastest will survive.
The Ookla survey, commissioned among smartphone users aged 18 and over, in urban and rural areas of India, was to understand the current mobile behavior of Indian consumers.
Video and game streaming to increase with 5G
Sylwia Kechiche, Principal Business Analyst at Ookla, said, “The promise of 5G is that it will unlock a world of possibilities beyond just a faster network connection. become the first operators to go to market with 5G.”
The adoption of 5G is expected to boost the maximum streaming of video content, games and social messages. And not surprisingly, the Ookla survey said that if mobile internet connections were better, 70% of respondents would increase their use of streaming video, while 68% said they would increase their mobile gaming.
Operators have purchased a total of 44,960 MHz of spectrum in the 26 GHz (mmWave) spectrum band, which due to its high throughput is particularly useful for streaming and gaming. Meanwhile, other consumer behaviors such as online shopping, mobile money and watching esports are not as affected by high network speeds.
Fear of tariff increase for 5G
Airtel and Jio invested in C-band spectrum at auction, acquiring spectrum in all 22 telecom circles, while Vodafone only acquired spectrum in its priority circles. C-band spectrum is expected to offer higher data speeds to customers. About 42% of respondents believe faster speeds on 5G would further improve the service being provided to them.
In addition to faster speeds, 24% of respondents wanted a more reliable connection, while 21% expected better indoor coverage. According to the survey, nearly half of respondents own a 5G-ready device. This gives operators an existing customer base that they can reach from day one.
Issues that could affect consumers’ acceptance of 5G could be accessibility, coverage, and consumer education. Many who don’t plan to upgrade said they think the cost of the 5G tariff would be too expensive. As it stands now, India’s data rates are among the lowest in the world.