You May Have to Pay Up to 10% More as Jio, Airtel Could Soon End Free Unlimited 5G

Telecom operators will start monetizing 5G by end of this year to increase ARPU.

  • Indian telecom operators are looking to introduce separate 5G plans.
  • 5G subscriptions are expected to be priced higher than 4G by over 10%.
  • You can also expect 4G plans to receive a hike.

Jio and Airtel have been leading the 5G rollout in India. Both operators currently offer unlimited 5G data across their cellular plans, without any additional charges. The companies have been doing so to increase the 5G adoption in the country to maximum customers.

However, the free run of unlimited 5G may soon come to a halt. As per a report from the Economic Times, Jio and Airtel are planning to introduce separate plans for 5G connectivity, which could be priced 5-10% higher than regular 4G plans.

India has witnessed the fastest 5G rollout globally, reaching 100 million users in just one year. However, Jio and Airtel have not started monetizing the new service yet. Both telecom giants currently offer 5G as a freebie in most regular plans.

ET’s report with industry experts mentions that Jio and Airtel are expected to launch their 5G cellular plans in the second half of 2024. Both companies are now nearing the complete rollout of 5G in the country and will start recouping their investments by increasing the average revenue per user (ARPU). 5G plans could be priced up to a 10% premium compared to existing plans.

These plans are also expected to offer 30% more data than 4G plans, which generally offer 1.5GB to 3GB data per day. The higher bandwidth and speeds of 5G are estimated to increase data consumption significantly. As both companies have offered free 5G data for almost a year, Jio and Airtel now also have an idea about the changing usage pattern of their customers with 5G. This will help them to analyze how much more daily data they should ideally include in their 5G plans, as compared to 4G plans.

ET also says that existing 4G plans may also get a price hike in 2024. Indian telecom operators have not hiked rates for almost two years now, and the introduction of separate 5G plans may arrive at the same time with a revised increase in 4G charges.

As the free 5G wheel grinds to a halt, it will upset a lot of users in India. However, it also has a bright side where 5G consumption will get optimized, which will effectively improve the speeds and quality of 5G over time. The situation is similar to Jio’s entry in 2016 where 4G speeds deteriorated during the later phases of free distribution. Major improvements were seen gradually when more users shifted towards paid plans in a phased manner.