According to a top Jio executive, India could have 100-150 million 5G smartphones by the time the next-generation network is launched. Rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are betting that the country will see rapid progress in education, fintech, and small and medium enterprise with the early adoption of affordable 5G devices.
“We can expect between 100 to 150 million 5G smartphones existing in the country by the time the network starts,” Sunil Dutt, president of devices and mobility, for Jio said Friday.
Dutt spoke on a panel at the India Mobile Congress, stating that there are around 500 million smartphone users today, with 600 million by the time the 5G network is fully operational.
The 5G auctions are slated to take place in April or May of next year, and all private telecoms are testing 5G in the government-allocated spectrum. “We’ve already witnessed the impact of 4G on the country. There was also a generational change from 2G to 4G because 3G had little to no impact in this country “opined Dutt.
In 2016, Jio launched a 4G-only network, while incumbents continued to offer 2G services in addition to 3G and 4G. In September, Jio, which released the JioPhone Next, a cheap 4G smartphone, stated that affordability will be a key driving force in the market.
“…affordability has to be not just driven by the brands or the device brands trying to make cheaper phones because they will not like to compromise the devices, but they are also going to be how the entire ecosystem can make it affordable for the customer. For example, the financing option that we’ve just launched with JioPhone Next is one direction by which it can be done…,” he added.
Raghavan Sampath, director of business development at semiconductor firm MediaTek, said both 4G and 5G phones will “coexist” on the panel. He claims that today, all handset manufacturers offer 5G devices that are priced similarly to high-end 4G or mid-range 4G phones. Those price points, however, will shift.
“Today 5G phones have breached sub 15,000 rupees already. By 2022 expectation is that it would go between $150 and $200, that is around Rs 10,000-Rs 12,000,” said Sampath.
When 5G is implemented, Bharti Airtel, Jiio’s competitor, anticipates cloud gaming to be a growth driver. “I’m seeing talks both on the publisher side, which are the people who design the games, and then also on cloud gaming…genuine there’s the enthusiasm that might be one of the major scenarios that drive 5G value,” said Adarsh Nair, Airtel’s chief product officer. “We’re now collaborating with a few publishers to examine how games can adapt to a 5G environment,” he added.
Demand for enterprise enterprises is expected to increase once 5G is available, according to the telco. “At Jio, we have taken another major stride in “Making 5G real” – beyond speed tests and demos. Jio has successfully conducted trials of connected drones on its indigenous 5G network,” Aayush Bhatnagar, SVP, Reliance Jio, said in a Linkedin social media post on Monday.