Vodafone Idea (Vi) Plans to Launch 5G Services Across India in Six Months

Vi is exploring ways to monetize 5G before its public rollout

  • Vi is gearing up to launch 5G services in India.
  • The telecom operator has already secured 5G spectrum in over 17 circles across the country.
  • Vi 5G is currently available to some users in Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi.

India’s third-largest telecom operator Vodafone Idea (Vi) is planning to launch commercial 5G services in the country in the next 6-7 months. The company is currently conducting trials of 5G networks in Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi. Vi also planning to shut down its 3G services and utilize that bandwidth to improve its 4G coverage.

Akshaya Moondra, Chief Executive at Vi, says that the company is looking to seek clarity on the monetization of 5G services before its public rollout. The telco is working with its partners to embrace new technologies such as vRAN and ORAN for its 5G infrastructure.

He further added that Vi is the only loss-making private telecom operator in the country. However, Moondra declined to comment on Vi’s long-due funding talks, which the company has been trying to raise. This is an important concern for Vi as it needs to pay its outstanding dues to the government and other vendors like Indus Towers, to expand its services in the country.

From a general user perspective, we can expect Vi to start rolling out its 5G services by the end of 2024. The company has secured 5G spectrum allocation in 17 circles across India which includes Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West), West Bengal.

Some users in Mumbai and Pune are already able to access Vi 5G networks, which is a good sign for Vi subscribers.

Despite lagging behind Jio and Airtel, Vi has been highly competitive with its prepaid recharge pricing. The telco recently launched two new annual plans with Amazon Prime Video and Disney+Hotstar subscriptions, which are cheaper than the same offerings from Jio and Airtel. The company also actively announces festive packs with additional data and discounted prices, to retain its subscribers.

Vi currently has 228 million users in India. However, this number has been on a decline, as users have been opting out from the operator by porting to its competitors. In contrast, Jio has 449 million users, while Airtel has 277 million users, as per the latest data from TRAI.