There's a new telecom war looming on the horizon in India — both Relaince Jio and Airtel are now fighting to bring 5G spectrum to India.
Yes, it's surprising considering that India is still struggling to improve network coverage and is just beginning to dabble with the concept of 4G. Instead of trying to improve the sad state of affairs, especially when it comes to basic internet connectivity, the telecom giants have decided to let a petty competiveness prevail.
Samsung, the South Korean tech giant, on February 28, announced the "I&G (Infill & Growth) Project" for Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd that aims to expand both current network capacity as well as network coverage. The project will extend Jio services in rural areas by expanding its reach to over 90 per cent of the population.
"The massive deployment of over a million cells across India is especially remarkable. We will strive to create new paradigms for long-term evolution (LTE) -advanced pro and 5G by closely cooperating with Jio as a unified workforce," said Youngky Kim, president and head of Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, according to an India Today report.
Samsung has, in the past, provided the LTE core, base stations and solutions required for VoLTE services, as well as deployment services for establishing a nationwide network for Jio.
But it seems that they are not the only ones hell bent on being the face of the future of internet in India.
Airtel, Reliance Jio's biggest competitor has plans to take the Mukesh Ambani-led company head-on. Nokia and Bharti Airtel — India’s biggest telecom service providers — have announced their plans to bring 5G services to India.
According to a report in the Financial Express, Abhay Savargaonkar, the director of network services (India and South Asia) for Bharti Airtel said, “The 5G and Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications have tremendous potential to transform lives and we are pleased to partner with Nokia to enable these future technologies for our customers.”
Sanjay Malik, the head of India market for Nokia said, “After our successful association with Bharti Airtel for 2G, 3G and 4G technologies, we are proud to partner for the future of mobile networks. We will leverage our global experience in 5G-related industry projects and collaborations to enable Bharti Airtel to prepare their networks for greater capacity, coverage and speed.”
With IoT, Airtel plans to bring innovation the sectors of connected vehicles, industrial automation, healthcare etc.
But is this just about ushering in innovation or another battle for supremacy among telecom giants, which Airtel and Reliance Jio have been actively participating in?
The annoncement came in a series of moves by Airtel to try and one-up Reliance Jio.
Recently, Airtel announced that it will no longer charge for domestic roaming from April 1, and reduce international roaming charges by up to 90 per cent. Airtel also began offereing data at cheaper rates. In fact, they slashed data rates by almost 80 per cent.
But even with slashed rates and rosy schemes, both Jio and Airtel are still struggling to make 4G connectivity better in India. The state of internet in India is so bad that the number of users of Facebook Lite — a stripped down version of Facebook, which was launched in India back in 2015, targeted towards people who face poor internet connectivity and low speeds — in India has doubled from 100 million to 200 million, in just under a year.
Even Satya Nadella, the Microisoft CEO, announced Skype Lite, an optimised version of Skype that will provide better experience for video and audio calling service, even at low connection speeds of 3G and 2G, a challenge internet users face in India.
Isn't it imperative that telecom giants in India concentrate a bit more towards improving existing condition in India rather than jumping to grab the next big thing?
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