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89% Indians intend to upgrade to 5G network despite challenges: Ookla

89% Indians intend to upgrade to 5G network despite challenges: Ookla
Photo Credit: Pixabay
8 Aug, 2022
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With 5G slated to roll out in India soon, consumers seem to be upbeat, with 89% stating that they intend to upgrade to 5G network, according to a recent survey.

In the findings of its recent consumer survey, Ookla, a network intelligence and connectivity insights firm, however, noted that while 5G can promise of much better connection speeds (about 10 times faster than 4G) and connectivity, affordability, coverage, and consumer education for 5G will remain as early adoption challenges.

The perceived cost of the 5G tariff is a primary reason for people to dissuade from adopting 5G. For example, over a quarter of those who don’t plan to upgrade said that they think the 5G tariff cost would be too expensive, followed by 24% stating lack of 5G knowledge as an issue, and 23% not having a 5G capable phone, Ookla researchers said. 

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Nonetheless, the enthusiasm among Indian consumers for 5G adoption is growing with 70% of respondents stating that they would increase their use of video streaming, while 68% stated they would boost their mobile gaming. Operators acquired a total of 44,960 MHz of spectrum in the 26 GHz spectrum band (mmWave), which due to its high throughput, is particularly useful for streaming and gaming. It will also lend additional capacity in dense areas such as stadiums.

Sylwia Kechiche, Principal Analyst, Enterprise at Ookla said, While mobile users in India are among the most data-intensive users in the world, India’s 4G/LTE networks have become a bottleneck for demand. The promise of 5G is that it will unlock a world of possibilities beyond just a faster network connection.” Kechiche added, “Now that operators have acquired 5G spectrum, they start their race to become the first operators to go to market with 5G, with some already hinting that 5G deployments will begin in the next few months.” 

The Ookla survey said that adoption will further go up as of the cost of 5G hardware decreases and the technology and vendor ecosystem continue to mature. Following the spectrum auction, Bharti Airtel has already contracted Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung to deploy 5G services this month. Indian operators’ move to embrace Open radio access network (RAN), the key component of a mobile telecommunication system to connect users, will drive network costs even lower.

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Another key factor is the 5G device ecosystem, with 5G smartphone prices falling since the technology launched. According to Ookla’s Consumer Survey, almost half of respondents have a 5G ready handset. This offers operators an existing customer base that they can target from day one.

A March 2022 report by international market research firm GfK also said that adoption of 5G-enabled smartphones in India is expected to more than triple and account for 40% of sales volume contribution this year, against just 12% in 2021.

Meanwhile, Indian operators are already voicing their plans regarding network rollout, with Jio targeting a pan-Indian rollout coinciding with on Independence Day while Airtel plans to start 5G services in key cities across the country.  

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