Reliance Jio has deployed its 5G network in 101 cities in hundred days since announcing the 5G launch. From Ludhiana to Kochi, the operator claims that its 5G network is available to its users in 101 Indian cities on an invitation-only basis.

Airtel, the other Indian operator, which is also rolling out its 5G services, has deployed its network in 30 cities so far. This means that the geographic expanse of Reliance Jio’s deployment outpaces that of Airtel’s. However, analysts argue that Jio has not yet announced the number of unique users on its 5G networks, so it is too soon to declare Jio the winner in the 5G race. 

Reliance Jio achieved this milestone on Thursday when it expanded its 5G footprint in six key cities in Tamil Nadu — Coimbatore, Vellore, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, Salem and Hosur.

The race to National 5G rollouts is on as Jio rapidly deploys 5G services in major urban centres in three months. Jio, which commenced announcing its deployments on October 4, is set to give users nationwide the 5G experience. However, only those invited to join Jio’s “True 5G Network” can enjoy these services.

According to Jio’s announcements, cities with live 5G networks include Delhi, Gurugram, Bhubaneshwar, Jaipur, Agra and many more. On the other hand, Operator Bharti Airtel has only announced live 5G services in around 30 cities, much behind Jio’s whopping number. 

At this rapid pace of deployment, Reliance Jio is likely well on its way to its targeted nationwide coverage by December 2023. Top securities firms have monikered 2023 to be the “Year of 5G rollouts,” as CLSA notes in its report, “2023 is a year of 5G rollouts... Bharti, with 5G NSA, targets to cover 5,000 towns by March 2024, while Reliance Jio, with an SA 5G rollout, targets to reach pan India coverage by December 2023.”

According to industry insiders, pitting Airtel and Jio’s deployment strategies is an apples-to-oranges comparison since both operators likely have different deployment strategies. An analyst told businessline on conditions of anonymity: “We still don’t know the number of unique users on Jio’s 5G network. Nor are everyday users aware of the quality of the 5G services in these locations. This is because the operator invites users to test out its 5G network. In Airtel’s case, any operator with the right 5G enabled plan can access its 5G network in locations where it is available.” Reliance Jio did not respond to businessline’s query seeking the number of unique users of Jio’s 5G network.