Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said the application ecosystem to leverage the power of 5G services is not keeping pace with the deployment of 5G networks in India. Speaking at FICCI Frames 2023, an event for the media and entertainment business, Vittal said at present the applications to leverage the power of 5G are few and far between.
“The only application today is speed, which most users are unable to appreciate, since most of their day to day applications can be done just as easily on the relatively slower 4G networks,” said Vittal.
“The telecom industry is moving at radical pace for the first time, the rest of the ecosystem is not keeping with this pace. Software companies, IT companies and content companies need keep up with operators to truly leverage our 5G ecosystem,” Vittal concluded.
So far, Airtel’s network is available in more than 3,500 towns, and Vittal claims the telecom operator is adding almost 40 towns to the 5G network every single day.
While the pace of deployment for the 5G network could be rapid, telcos are encountering the age-old dilemma with the technology, which is how the users can leverage this new age of telephony.
So far, two out of the three major Indian telecom operators have started deploying 5G network — Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. Both operators are targetting pan-India coverage by the end of 2023 or the first half of 2024. As of now, operators are offering 5G services on the existing 4G tariffs. Reliance is set to introduce fibre like broadband services using 5G airwaves soon called “Jio AirFiber,” other innovations such as the cloud computer and private network services are also in the works.
Vittal discussed many of these use-cases in his keynote, including telemedicine, education and many more. On the sidelines, Vittal added that Airtel is working with start-ups to develop further use-cases. Vittal also told businessline on the sidelines that Airtel expects no ARPU gains from 5G as of yet, since it is currently offering the unlimited 5G data plan on 4G tariff rates.