Handset makers with 5G ready smartphones gave the third edition of the India Mobile Congress(IMC) a miss, besides industry stalwarts and key government functionaries, suggesting that the rollout of the next gen technology in India is still some time away.
While no global handset makers had individual presence at the marquee event, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and LG showcased a 5G device each, which was available in the US or China. China’s OnePlus was the only brand that showcased live 5G cloud gaming and performance benchmark tests like throughput and latency on its OnePlus 7 Pro (5G) on Airtel’s network.
Telecom secretary Anshu Prakash tried to play down the absence of device players — a key part of the 5G ecosystem – saying there was a timing mismatch. “I think next time there will be a lot of mobile phone manufacturers. We discussed this with COAI and also the handset manufacturers. I think they came in a little late, and I’m told there was no space,” he said.
The only Indian handset maker present — Lava International — focused on showcasing its designing abilities for Make in India.
Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have already said the country is not ready for 5G and have sought a delay in the auction of next-gen airwaves till later this year or early next till the ecosystem, including handsets, develops. “In India, we have to specifically figure out the use cases for 5G. If we look at devices, below $1,000 (Rs 71,000 approx) 5G devices don’t exist,” Vodafone Idea’s MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar said at the IMC, highlighting concerns around 5G adoption in the country. “The questions around who is going to use this technology and at what cost are yet to be answered.”
Telcos in India say India needs to have 5G devices at affordable prices for wider adoption, which will underline the business case for operators.
“When 3G smartphones were due for replacement, the market was flooded with 4G. Customers chose to take future proof devices and there was no majsor incremental cost. That’s not the case now. Most of the known 5G smartphones are going to be in luxe category, north of Rs 50,000,” said Faisal Kawoosa, co-founder of TechArc.―Business Telegraph