5G device ecosystem critical for service rollout: Jio’s Mathew Oommen


The 5G device ecosystem in India would possibly mature in 2020, a time frame which will coincide with the rollout of the first commercial networks on the next generation technology in the country, a top Reliance JioInfocomm official alleged.

“The device ecosystem is critical to ensure that operators aren’t sitting on spectrum waiting for affordable devices to show up in the market,” Reliance Jio president Mathew Oommen told ET, adding that the 3.5 GHz spectrum could be leveraged smartly by telcos to help both 4G and 5G.

He added that the device ecosystem in the country would continue to mature and possibly 2020 would be the inflection point by when the ecosystem would start to have significant growth.

The non-availability of affordable 5G-ready handsets is one of the major reasons why some telcos wanted the auctions of spectrum to be pushed back. The government has stated it will hold 5G airwaves in the second half of 2019.

The Mobile Association (TMA) that represents handset makers feels that the majority of device players were playing a ‘wait and watch’ strategy as they were waiting for low-cost chipset vendors to successfully demonstrate their capabilities in the price-conscious Indian market.

TMA president Bhawna Kumari said more than 20 vendors were seriously relating the launch of 5G-capable devices.

She further stated that Samsung and Apple are likely to be the first to roll out 5G smartphones followed by Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Vivo, and OnePlus, and then Indian brands would follow suit.

“It is for the first time that the two evolutionary mobile technologies would co-exist and interoperate. We will see a generation of devices that simultaneously connect to both 4G and 5G,” Oommenalleged.

The top executive feels that 5G technology would be complementary to 4G, and not an immediate replacement, which would act as an advantage to operators which have already invested significantly in 4G-VoLTE networks.

Chinese chipmaker UNISOC’s multi-modem chipset is presently under development, with related products slated to be released in 2019.

“From our end, we will ensure that high-priority consideration and help is given to the Indian market during the product design phase,” Neeraj Sharma, country head (India) at UNISOC, said.

Sharma believes that 2021-2022 will be a relatively more mature period for 5G to make a market dent.

US-based chipmaker Qualcomm has already demonstrated a prototype of an LTE-4G and 5G capable smartphone with embedded SIM capability that can work on the 3300-3600 MHz frequency range, recommended by India’s telecom regulator.

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