While the Indian government is already on its way to setting up a committee to push the rollout of 5G by 2020, the country is just about warming to 4G and 4G LTE technology. 3G still continues to be mass, but 4G is likely to take over by 2018. Prominent chipset maker Qualcomm estimates that about 85 percent of smartphone users in India would be on LTE networks by the end of next year, and the charge is being lead by 4G-enabled feature phones a slew of which has hit the market in recent months. Also Read - Airtel partners with Intel for its 5G network development: Details hereAlso Read - Airtel 5G Mumbai trials show download speeds of 1.2Gbps, upload at 850Mbps
“15 percent of the market was 4G LTE about 18 months ago, its shifting now rapidly. About 50 percent or so of it is now long-term evolution (LTE). Now with introduction of the 4G feature phone in the market, the transition to LTE will become 80-85 percent by 2018. India has the largest feature phone population in the world. It is very useful but there is a movement to smartphones from a mix perspective,” Qualcomm President Larry Paulson told ET in an interview. ALSO READ: The buzz is great, but 5G on Indian phones is still a distant dream Also Read - Top tech news today: Pokemon Go Fest 2021, Qualcomm smartphone and more
Qualcomm, of course, manufactured the chip that powers the JioPhone from the house of Reliance Jio which is singularly responsible for triggering mass 4G LTE adoption in the country. Besides 3G users making swift transitions to 4G to avail of Jio’s low-cost high-speed data, even some 2G users have converted to 4G directly. Now, feature phone users are sampling 4G as it becomes mass through the JioPhone as well as Airtel’s Karbonn A40 Indian phone, and the just announced Micromax Bharat 1 phone. There is a whole new revolution happening in the sub-Rs 3,000 price segment that is making 4G truly mass. ALSO READ: Micromax Bharat 1 vs Reliance JioPhone vs Airtel Karbonn A40 Indian: Price, specifications and tariff compared
Where does that leave 5G? Most telcos have started rolling out Massive MIMOs across the country to become 5G-ready by 2020. The first round of 5G spectrum auctions are likely to happen in 2018, and there are more takers than earlier. “The awareness for 5G is up in India. There are no technical road blocks to India adopting 5G. It is now a matter of pulling stakeholders together which includes the government which has spectrum control and regulatory actions that need to be taken,” states Paulson. Until then, it is 4G’s time in the sun!