5G Spectrum Auction: Faster 5G Services Coming Soon, But 4G Is Not Going Anywhere

The government has given a go-ahead to the Department of Telecom’s (DoT) 5G spectrum auction and invited applications from potential bidders, paving way for the commercial rollout of 5G services in India in the coming months.

The DoT will host 5G spectrum auction across various bands. Fifth-generation wireless or 5G is the latest iteration of mobile technology, engineered to greatly enhance the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks.

Talking about 5G technology, several smartphone makers are already selling 5G models and even using it as a USP without the rollout of 5G services. However, the pertinent questions are:

Will the government’s decision give a boost to 5G smartphones, and will 4G technology remain relevant? Here is what experts have to say.

5G handsets will become mainstream, but not already

Explaining whether the government’s move will give a boost to 5G smartphones, Pulkit Pandey, Associate Principal Analyst, Gartner, told ABP Live,”5G devices becoming more mainstream will take more time than just a few months,

considering that the consumers will need to see the value that 5G brings, which would be possible once the network is widely deployed and running.”

Also read: 5G Spectrum Auction: Know Which 13 Key Cities Will First Get 5G Services In India

It should be noted that more than 50 per cent of the smartphones launched by OEMs in the first five months of 2022 are 5G models, according to Massachusetts-headquartered market research firm Strategy Analytics.

“Most of the devices in the Indian market are now 5G, and a limited selection in 4G handsets will continue,” said Manish Rawat, Analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The popularity of 5G handsets will also increase as consumers will feel that they are truly future-proofing and investing in something that they are likely to use soon, according to Faisal Kawoosa,

Founder and Chief Analyst of market research firm Techarc. “However, in lower segments affordability of services might be an inhibitor even if devices are being made at affordable price points,” Kawoosa noted.

Read more: India Prepares To Roll Out 5G Soon. What Is 5G Spectrum And How It Works | Explained

Echoing a similar sentiment, Prachir Singh, Senior Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research noted: “The recent announcement of the 5G spectrum auction will have a positive impact on the overall 5G smartphone market and will

drive in making the 5G smartphones mainstream, however, commercial availability will be a key inflection point. We believe that brands will focus more on 5G smartphones as consumer adoption increases.”

4G services here to stay

The penetration of 4G network has been tremendous in the past few years and once 5G services roll out commercially, its adoption will happen at a much faster pace.

“4G is going to stay for at least another 10 years. Especially in India, where 3G has already been phased out, the major network in place is 4G. 5G coverage, even when launched, will not be immediately available widely.

It is going to be a gradual process. Thus, 4G will remain the driving network,” Pandey of Gartner explained.

The 4G network or LTE services was first introduced in India in 2012, only via dongles and modems by Bharti Airtel. After its initial launch in 2012, it took two more years for 4G to become available for mobile service providers.

However, it took a few more years for 4G services to be available throughout the country. In fact, Reliance Jio recently launched 4G voice and data services in Spangmik village near Pangong lake in Ladakh to become the telco to provide 4G services in and around the area.

According to Kawoosa of Techarc, 4G will thrive in the India market till 2025.

“Because 4G is stable and reliable, 5G and 4G will be compatible for a long time, but 2G and 3G will be obsolete within a few years due to the limited spectrum, which can be utilised for the development of the 4G and 5G networks,” Rawat of Strategy Analytics added.

Which smartphone makers will have an edge because of 5G tech?

Currently, the smartphone OEMs that are most actively launching 5G handsets include Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo and OnePlus and these are the frontliners that will have an edge when 5G is rolled out commercially in the country.

“They have the early mover advantage in the 5G segment in India, and the network rollout would give them a further boost.

We will witness aggressive 5G launches by these vendors now across all price tiers they are operating in,” Rajeev Nair, Senior Analyst, Strategy Analytics noted.

“I don’t honestly see a clear winner just because of 5G. However, brands like Samsung, and OnePlus seem to be better positioned,” said Kawoosa.

The Indian government gave a go-ahead to the Department of Telecom’s (DoT) 5G spectrum auction in a cabinet meeting recently, paving way for the commercial rollout of 5G services in the country in the coming months which is touted to be about 10 times faster than 4G services.

A total of 72097.85 MHz of spectrum with a validity period of 20 years will be put to auction that is slated to be held at the end of July this year.

The auction will be held for spectrum in various frequency bands — 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz. According to the DoT, 5G services will be initially rolled out to 13 cities in the country. 

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