Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched 5G telecom services in India at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022 in Delhi, ushering in an era of ultra-high-speed internet services which will progressively cover the entire country over the next couple of years.
Launching the fifth generation or 5G services in the country at an event in Pragati Maidan, PM Modi said it marks the beginning of a new era and presents an infinite sky of opportunities. “Today, 130 crore Indians are getting a wonderful gift in the form of 5G from the country and from the telecom industry of the country," he said, adding 5G is the dawn of a new era. “5G is the beginning of an infinite sky of opportunities."
The launch led telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio to begin a phased rollout starting today. In August, India’s biggest-ever auction of telecom spectrum received a record Rs 1.5 lakh crore of bids, with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio leading the auction with Rs 88,078 crore worth of bids, and Airtel coming second with a bid of Rs 43,084 crores.
Here are the top updates:
- PM Modi Launches 5G Services: PM Modi in his address said the government focussed on four pillars. “First, the price of the device. Second, digital connectivity. Third, is the cost of data. Fourth, and most important, the idea of ‘digital first’,” Modi said, adding that his government is working on “internet for all”. “Just as the government started a door-to-door campaign to provide electricity, worked on the mission of providing clean water to everyone through the Har Ghar Jal Abhiyan, and delivered gas cylinders to the poorest of the poor through the Ujjwala scheme, it is now working in a similar manner on the goal of internet for all," he said.
- ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’: Hailing the success of the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, PM Modi said: “Many made fun of my Atmanirbhar Bharat. But we increased mobile phone manufacturing units in India. Eight years ago, there were only two mobile manufacturing units. Today, there are over 200 units in India. We are at number two in the world.”
- “From Zero Exports…’: The country, PM Modi said, is shipping phones overseas worth crores of rupees as against zero exports a few years back. “From exporting zero mobile phones in 2014, today we have become a mobile phone exporting country worth thousands of crores. Naturally, all these efforts have had an impact on the cost of the device. Now we have started getting more features at a lower cost,” the PM said.
- Telecom Companies Show Potential of 5G Technology in India: After the 5G launch by the PM, the three major telecom operators – Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea — demonstrated one use case to show the potential of 5G technology in India. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio connected a teacher from a school in Mumbai with students in three different locations in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Odisha. The Vodafone Idea test demonstrated the safety of workers in an under-construction tunnel of Delhi Metro through the creation of a ‘digital twin’ of the tunnel on stage. In the Airtel demo, students from Dankaur, Uttar Pradesh witnessed a lively and immersive education experience to learn about the solar system with the help of virtual reality and augmented reality.
- Jio 5G to be Available Across India By December 2023: Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said Reliance Jio will launch 5G services across all corners of the country by the end of 2023. “I want to reiterate Jio’s commitment to deliver 5G to every town, every taluka, and every tehsil of our country by December 2023. Most of Jio’s 5G is developed in India, and hence carries the stamp of Atmanirbhar Bharat,” he said. “India may have started a little late, but I want to assure all of you, we will finish first by rolling out 5G services across the length and breadth of India. And as an industry, we will ensure that we have the highest quality and the most affordable rates than anyone else has in the world,” he added.
- Covid Couldn’t Halt India, Says Sunil Mittal: Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal hailed PM Modi in his speech and said India’s heartbeat didn’t pause for a minute during the Covid-19 pandemic as traffic moved from the cities to villages and offices to homes, all because of the Prime Minister’s Digital India vision. He also acknowledged the efforts of industry colleague and Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, praising him for pushing forth 4G in India. “He made us run to keep pace with him,” Mittal said. The Bharti Enterprises chairman also praised PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ pitch as he confessed that he had never thought India would become a manufacturing hub, especially for electronics. “In October 1982, I saw a push-button telephone in Taiwan and brought it to India to start its manufacturing here. Today, 40 years later, I am proud that the same Bharti Airtel is the pioneer in 5G technology.”
- Kumar Birla Hails ‘Gen Leap’: Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, was also effusive in his praise for the prime minister as he lauded his leadership and vision because of which “we are witnessing a generational leap in technology”. “The telecom industry has been one of India’s key growth engines, catapulting India into the top five economies of the world. It continues to play a transformational role, touching every aspect of our daily lives and work. Today we are set to make a giant leap into the future. As PM Modi launches 5G today, the telecom industry will further ignite the digital dreams of 1.3 billion Indians and many thousands of enterprises. It will also set the stage for the country to become a $5 trillion economy in the next few years.”
- Airtel Becomes 1st Company To Launch 5G Services In India: Bharti Airtel’s 5G service will be available in eight cities from Saturday, its chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said at the event. The company has not yet revealed all the eight regions, however Mittal said that Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, and Bangalore are some of them. Mittal also said Airtel will roll out 5G services in several cities across the country by March 2023 and across India by March 2024. According to a senior company official, Airtel 5G services will be available at existing 4G rates and a new tariff for 5G will be announced after some time. The officer said the 5G services are also being launched in Chennai, Hyderabad and Siliguri. Bharti Airtel Chief Technology Officer Randeep Singh Sekhon said that the company’s backend infrastructure is ready.
- Vodafone Idea Doesn’t Specify Launch, Coverage Timelines: Vodafone Idea has offered no specific timeline for the launch or coverage of the ultra high-speed internet services. “We will soon begin 5G rollout journey. We will leverage our strong presence in rural India, our enterprise customers, our tech partners, and global experience of Vodafone Group for progressively rolling out our 5G network and services in the coming period," Birla had said without specifying rollout schedule or timeframe.
- 5G Rollout in Diwali?: With the 5G launch, both Reliance Jio and Airtel are gunning for a Diwali launch for their 5G services. Both Jio and Airtel will launch their 5G services in select metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata initially.
- PM Modi Gets a Demo From Jio Chairman Akash Ambani: Ahead of the launch, PM Modi took a first-hand experience of services related to 5G as he went around pavilions at the exhibition and got a demonstration by Reliance Jio Chairman Akash Ambani. PM Modi was accompanied by Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, junior Telecom Minister Devusinh Chauhan, and Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani. PM Modi tested “True 5G" devices at the Reliance Jio pavilion and was seen trying the ‘Jio Glass’ with Akash Ambani assisting him.
- Delhi’s IGI Airport Gets 5G Services: While 5G services are starting to roll out now, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport became 5G-ready slightly earlier. The IGI Airport in Delhi is the first 5G-ready airport in India and got 5G capabilities a couple of days before 5G launch.
- Boost to Healthcare: Danish Ahmed, founder, healthtrip.com, told News18 that the 5G rollout can have a significant impact on medical tourism in India by enabling ‘tele-surgery’ where surgeons in one location can operate on patients in another location by remotely operating surgical robots or guiding surgeons through a virtual presence in the operating theatre. “Both of these require high-speed internet with low latency, which 5G will enable. In the coming decade, we can expect thousands of remote surgeries where Indian dentists and surgeons will virtually treat their patients through remotely operated surgical robots,” said Ahmed.
- ‘Smart’ Education: Anup Raaj, Founder and CEO of InstaPrep by 7 Classes, told News18 that the main benefit of 5G is that devices can interconnect very easily and communicate with each other without human interpretation, which can help in creating a smarter classroom which is also known as the internet of things (IoT). “The main advantage of 5G is AR & VR. These technologies can give students better education. 5G will enable schools and institutes to become high-tech and reduce manpower involvement,” he said.
- How Fast is 5G? 5G is the next telecom standard and it will be the fastest network in the evolution of mobile broadband. It is believed to be about 10 times faster than 4G, delivering peak data transfer speeds of up to 20 gigabytes per second or more than 100 megabytes per second.
- 5G More Expensive Than 4G In India?: While there is little to no information about how the pricing of 5G plans will be in India, it is expected to be slightly higher than the current rates for 4G in the country, but not a significant jump in costs. India has one of the cheapest internet in the world, and that is not expected to change with 5G rollout.
- Difference Between 5G and 4G: As compared to 4G, 5G is a more capable interface. While 4G offers speeds of up to 150mbps, 5G is capable of putting out up to 10Gbps download speeds, which is multi-fold more than what 4G is capable of. 5G will also open up many possibilities in the artificial intelligence and machine learning space, as scientists will be able to program more and more data into their systems, resulting in quicker results and quicker solutions.