Vodafone Idea reveals plans to launch 5G by July-August this year

Vodafone Idea reveals plans to launch 5G by July-August this year

Vodafone Idea – the only Indian telco currently not in the 5G race – reportedly now plans to launch its 5G service “in about six to seven months”, by which time it hopes to have an idea how to make money from it.

According to ETTelecom, Vodafone Idea CEO Akshaya Moondra told investors during a third quarter earnings call on Tuesday that the telco is in discussions with various technology partners to finalise its 5G rollout, which includes implementing vRAN and Open RAN technologies.

The telco is also working with partners to develop device ecosystems and 5G uses cases for the Indian market, the report said.

Vodafone Idea, which has been beset by financial problems, is the laggard in India’s 5G race. Rival telco Reliance Jio completed its 5G rollout at the end of last year, while Bharti Airtel is scheduled finish its rollout by March.

Moondra observed that while Jio and Airtel may have a whopping head start on 5G rollouts, “there is no monetisation happening yet”. He added that monetisation isn’t that far off, and that “we expect to have a better idea on 5G monetisation by the time we launch.”

Moondra said on the same call that Vodafone Idea plans to switch off its 3G network in 2025 and refarm the 2100-MHz band for its 4G network to boost capacity. Vodafone Idea has already turned off 3G in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai and Kolkata, the report said.

On Monday, Vodafone Idea reported that it had narrowed its net loss to INR 69.8 billion (US$840.1 million) for the quarter ending December 2023. Revenues were up just 0.5% year on year, but the operator managed to boost its 4G subscriber base from 121.6 million to 125.6 million during the quarter, with ARPUs up 7.4% year on year.

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