India Leaves Europe Behind in 5G Network Expansion

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India is at the forefront of 5G network expansion, with the country surpassing Europe in terms of standalone 5G availability. This remarkable progress has been supported by the government and telecom operators, who have invested heavily in network infrastructure.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Ivan Razon, Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Affairs at Ericsson, emphasized the rapid expansion of 5G in India between May 2022 and August 2023. He noted that India has made significant progress in 5G Standalone availability, while Europe lags behind.

Razon’s comments come at a time when India is making significant strides in 5G network deployment. Telecom companies in India have been extending their network coverage to provide faster and more reliable connectivity to both consumers and businesses across the country.

At the beginning of this month, Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO of Nokia, acknowledged that India’s 5G network deployment has been remarkable, placing the country among the top three nations globally with the largest 5G user base. Lundmark also noted that 5G download speeds in India surpass those in numerous advanced markets. A recent Ericsson survey revealed that an estimated 31 million users in India are expected to upgrade to 5G-enabled phones in 2023. The report also found that the introduction of 5G has resulted in a 30% increase in overall network satisfaction in India compared to the previous 4G technology.

Earlier this month, Nokia launched 6G Lab as a project to accelerate the development of fundamental technologies and groundbreaking applications based on 6G technology.

The ITU Study Group, a United Nations organization, met in Geneva earlier this month and supported India’s goal of having widespread 6G coverage. It is expected that this decision would result in cheaper implementation costs for the next generation of technology.

As per a recent report, 5G subscriptions experienced a substantial increase of 175 million in Q2 2023, reaching a global total of 1.3 billion users. India emerged as the largest contributor, adding over 7 million users to this figure.

During the same quarter, mobile broadband subscriptions saw a notable growth of 100 million, reaching a total of 7.4 billion worldwide. Mobile broadband now constitutes 88 percent of all subscriptions. Examining mobile subscription penetration by country, India accounted for an impressive 79 percent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 5G services in India during the Indian Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022 held in Delhi on October 1, 2022. On the same momentous day, Bharti Airtel launched 5G services in eight cities, which included the four major metropolitan areas. Sunil Bharti Mittal, the Chairman of Bharti Airtel, made a commitment to provide nationwide 5G coverage by March 2024. Simultaneously, Reliance Industries unveiled their ambitious plans for a nationwide 5G rollout through their subsidiary company, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, utilizing the 26 GHz mm-wave spectrum on August 14.

Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are expected to invest about Rs 75,000 crore in the current financial year to strengthen their networks, according to a report by JM Financial. The report also states that Jio may invest around Rs 42,000 crore and Bharti Airtel around Rs 33,000 crore in FY24.

India’s rapid progress in 5G network expansion is a testament to the country’s commitment to digital transformation. With widespread 5G coverage, India is well-positioned to lead the way in the development and deployment of 6G technology.