If the interest wasn’t evident already, Ericsson has put numbers to India’s expected 5G adoption. The telecom giant’s latest estimates suggest that more than 100 million smartphone users in India, with 5G capable phones, will upgrade to the faster 5G services in 2023. These numbers come at a time when the country has seen the launch of the first commercial 5G mobile networks, on the side-lines of the India Mobile Congress (IMC).
Ericsson has also confirmed they are ramping up local manufacturing to meet the demand for 5G equipment, which include the new AIR 3219 and AIR 3268 integrated radios for networks, which are being manufactured in India. For this, the company is expected to increase capacity at its manufacturing facility in Pune, for 4G and 5G network equipment. These have been designed with reduced footprint, with the expectation they’ll be easier to install on poles and walls as well.
Cloud gaming on mobiles is a big bet. Ericsson demonstrated the network slicing feature for gaming, at the India Mobile Congress, alongside use cases for businesses, including private 5G networks and metaverse. “Mobile cloud gaming is an early use case opportunity enabled by network slicing. This is because slicing can provide gamers the guarantee of the performance needed for a good user experience,” said the company, in a statement shared with HT.
The company has bagged 5G network equipment deals with Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, and both telecom companies are expected to use the Swedish company’s equipment in the first phase of the 5G network rollout in the country. It is believed there will be talks with Vi as well, to finalize the deal.
According to Ericsson ConsumerLab, 5G-ready smartphone ownership in India has increased three times over the past two years. Incidentally, the intention of India’s mobile users to upgrade to 5G is as much as three times more than smartphone users in developed markets such as the US and UK.
“Even as 5G will provide immersive experiences to urban customers, it will also play an important role in achieving India’s digital inclusion goals, especially in bringing broadband to rural and remote homes,” says Nitin Bansal, Head of Ericsson India and Head of Network Solutions, South- east Asia, Oceania and India, Ericsson.
The report indicates that of the more than 100 million expected upgrades to 5G next year, about half of that demographic is ready to upgrade to a higher priced plan, if that enables access to faster mobile data services. That’s as much as a 45% premium over the price they are currently paying for their 4G packs. The expectation is 5G will trigger an increase in consumption of newer format high-resolution video streaming and cloud gaming, alongside augmented and virtual reality, immersive education and online workplaces.
Mobile service providers need to be careful about subscriber churn. Ericsson’s data indicates that as many as 36% of the users will likely make the switch to another mobile service provider for better 5G services. In India, 5G spectrum for commercial 5G networks has been acquired by Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vi.
“The transition to 5G provides an opportunity for service providers in India to strengthen their position in the consumer market, with focus on 5G quality and availability,” says Jasmeet Sethi, Head of Ericsson ConsumerLab. “More innovative experiences need to be bundled to meet the expectations of early adopters to successfully monetize 5G,” Sethi adds.
There is also the increased scope of 5G based fixed wireless access, or FWA, as an alternative to wired home broadband services. FWA, as the name suggests, will bring 5G connectivity to homes via a terminal and create a home Wi-Fi network. Reliance Jio has already spoken about such a product being in the works, called JioAirFiber.
Of the total number of mobile users surveyed by Ericsson, as many as 29% are of the opinion that 5G FWA services are extremely relevant, and they may consider giving up their existing broadband connections. This number, in the global scheme of things, is only bettered by Brazil (more than 35%).