5G to account for 40% of mobile lines in India by end-2027: Ericsson

The Government of India expects to award 5G frequencies during July

5G is projected to account for almost 40% of mobile subscriptions in India – 500 million – by the end of 2027, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.

According to the Swedish vendor, even though 5G has not been launched commercially, there is already a good foundation for 5G uptake in India. An Ericsson ConsumerLab study indicated that 40 million smartphone users in India could take up 5G in its first year of availability.

“Additionally, 21% of respondents that are smartphone users indicated that they already have a 5G-ready device. Indian consumers also claim to be willing to pay 50% more for 5G bundled plans. This presents a unique opportunity to grow revenue within a market that has historically had very low ARPU,” Ericsson said.

“India’s strong growth supports a dynamic mobile services market. Over the past five years, it has seen rapid adoption of smartphones and migration up to 4G. In the region as a whole (including India, Nepal, and Bhutan), the share of 4G has grown from 9% of mobile subscriptions in 2016 to 68% in 2021,” the vendor added.

According to an Ericsson-Arthur D Little study, 5G will enable Indian mobile service providers to generate $17 billion in incremental revenue from enterprises by 2030. Much of this is projected to be driven by the adoption of 5G in the manufacturing, energy and utilities, ICT and retail industries.

“Indian enterprises consider 5G to be the most important technology for their digital strategies. 5G will also enable service providers to launch new services for consumers, including home broadband (5G FWA), enhanced video, multiplayer mobile gaming, and AR/VR services.”

Ericsson also noted that 5G can play an important role in achieving India’s digital inclusion goals, especially in bringing broadband to rural and remote homes. “Trials have proven the potential offered by 5G to bridge the digital divide by enabling access to high-speed broadband through FWA.”

The government of India recently announced plans to hold an auction of 5G spectrum by the end of July and confirmed that some frequencies will be reserved to enable enterprises to deploy private mobile networks.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, announced it had approved a proposal of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to auction a total of 72 gigahertz of spectrum, with a validity period of 20 years.

The government also agreed to set a reserve price of INR3.2 billion ($40.6 million), according to a Reuters report. The auction will offer frequencies in the 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.3 GHz and 26 GHz frequency bands.

The Indian government has also decided to allow enterprises to deploy and run private networks. These firms will be able to acquire spectrum directly from the DoT to set up networks to test and build Industry 4.0 applications such as machine-to-machine communications, IoT and artificial intelligence. The cabinet noted it decided to enable private networks to support a new wave of industrial applications in sectors such as automotive, healthcare, agriculture and energy, among others.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had recently told the Government of India that local carriers will not have incentives to deploy 5G networks if authorities allowed private companies to run their own private 5G networks.

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