India’s biggest 4G player, Reliance Jio Infocomm, has plans to speed up the rollout of 5G services by the second half of 2020 in a bid to prevent its competitors, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, from getting ahead by boosting their 4G capacity.
The ET quoted securities firm SBICap Securities as saying that the Reliance move had been resorted to due to capital raising plans announced recently by Vodafone and Bharti Airtel.
Jio has about 215 million subscribers on its 4G VoLTE network, all gained during just 25 months in operation, and constituting two-thirds of the country’s 4G market. It is expected to reach 400 million subscribers by 2020.
A 5G spectrum auction was expected in January 2020, according to the joint research chief at SBICap, Rajiv Sharma.
Only Jio is willing to buy 5G spectrum at existing prices; Bharti Airtel is seeking a price cut for some sub-GHz bands and opposes an early 5G spectrum sale. Vodafone Idea also wants the sale pushed back.
The report quoted Sharma as seeing “Jio making a decisive 5G upgrade next year to make competition from Airtel and VIL on the 4G front irrelevant, in its bid to maintain leadership on the fast broadband technology, thought and revenue market share fronts”.
He said: “Jio’s early move to 5G is inevitable to sustain market share gains, and we see it selectively deploying this next generation wireless broadband technology by the second half of 2020.
“If most funds raised by VIL and Airtel are deployed in expanding 4G capacity, they could together claim 425 million subscribers, sufficient enough to upgrade all their existing 2G users to 4G, which would make it tough for Jio to gain more market share” before nine or 12 months go by.―IT Wire