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    5G is coming to India soon, but what’s the status of 4G spectrum?

    5G is coming to India soon, but what’s the status of 4G spectrum?

    5G is coming to India soon, but what’s the status of 4G spectrum?
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    4G penetration in India has increased at a rapid pace and now the network is responsible for nearly all the data consumption in the country. Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio are set to launch 5G services in major metros and Tier I cities by the year-end.

    All the major Indian telecom companies are currently working on 5G trials across the country. With spectrum auctions expected within the year, Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio are likely to launch their 5G services in major metros and Tier I cities by the end of the year.

    According to Ericcson’s Mobility Report published in June 2021, 22 percent smartphone users in India already own 5G-ready handsets. The company also estimated that 5G adoption will happen at a much more rapid pace than what was witnessed for 4G/LTE spectrum.

    What is the status of 4G/LTE spectrum?

    The 4G telecommunications network was first introduced in India back in 2012, but only in the form of dongles and modems through TD-LTE by Airtel. 4G took another two years before it was available for mobile networks, as Airtel launched the first 4G mobile network in 2014. By 2016, all of India’s major telecommunications companies were offering 4G mobile networks.

    At the end of 2016, 4G penetration in India stood at 12 percent. However, in just four years the 4G network witnessed one of the strongest rates of adoption. By the end of 2020, the 4G penetration stood at 77 percent across India. In urban areas, the penetration was at 83 percent, according to data from the Nokia Mobile Broadband India Traffic (MBiT) Index report.

    The adoption was concurrent with the proliferation of 4G-capable affordable smartphones across the country. As 4G services became more popular, India’s data consumption needs increased as well. Indian smartphone users used about 14GB of data each month in 2020, the second-highest in the world. Data usage for Indian smartphone users is expected to cross 40GB per month by 2026, according to Ericcson’s report.

    But nearly the whole of this data is through the 4G network. As per data from the 2020 Nokia MBiT Index, 96 percent of all data consumed through the country was through the 4G network.

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