China has 770 million 4G subscribers at the end of 2016. The entire world is now waiting for the first 100 million 4G subscriber mark in India.
If media reports are correct, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries (RIL), has revealed that Reliance Jio has already achieved 100 million 4G subscribers. This fact was denied by Reliance Jio corporate communication team later. This does not mean that all the 100 million subscribers are its data users.
The official figure revealed by Reliance Jio Infocomm, which has all-India presence in the 4G market, is 72 million. TRAI in its latest report also revealed that Jio has 72 million 4G subscribers. TRAI does not reveal specific 4G subscriber number of Indian telecom operators.
Chinas’ 770 million 4G users by the end of 2016, account for 58 percent of all the country’s mobile phone users. The fact that India’s 100 million 4G users will be just less than 10 percent of its total mobile subscriber base indicates about a huge growth opportunity for 4G operators in India. 4G is growing at the expense of 3G in China. The same pattern will be happening in India as well.
TRAI has listed Reliance Jio Infocomm with 72.16 million, Bharti Airtel with 41.53 million, Vodafone with 35.01 million, Idea Cellular with 27.04 million and Reliance Communications with 16.08 million as the top 5 wireless broadband operators as of December 2016. In the case of Airtel and other top operators, wireless broadband includes business from 2G, 3G and 4G networks.
5G in India
China started research and development of its 5G technology early last year. Now, in the second phase, China has sped up its 5G frequency planning and will strengthen cooperation with other countries.
Technology firms indicate that some significant R&D and testing work is happening in India in the 5G space. TRAI is set to start consultation process for the allocation of 5G spectrum in India. At present, the telecom industry is not looking for any investment in 5G.
India wants to celebrate the first 100 million 4G subscriber mark. But the telecom industry does not want the celebration to stop abruptly because Reliance Jio can lose subscribers if it starts charging its customers. At present, there is no specific reason for switching over to Reliance Jio from their current operators if Jio starts charging for data. Jio said voice services will be free forever.