With many consumers unable to access 5G services despite having a 5G-enabled smartphone almost two weeks after the ultra-high speed network was introduced, the government has called for a meeting of telecom operators and handset makers to work on resolving issues and expediting the roll-out.
The meeting will be jointly chaired by the Telecom secretary and the IT secretary. In addition to senior officials of the two Ministries, representatives of the three private operators – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, along with representatives from smartphone makers such as Apple, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Realme, Motorola, and OnePlus, are expected to attend the meeting. Technology maker Qualcomm is also likely to be part of the meeting.
The ultra-high speed 5G networks were unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 1. While Bharti Airtel has announced commercial roll out of these services in eight cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Siliguri, Nagpur and Varanasi, rival Reliance Jio has started beta trial of these services in 4 cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Varanasi. However, in the cities where the 5G service has been announced, the network is not ubiquitous. For example, in Delhi, Bharti Airtel 5G service is currently available only in select areas.
Meanwhile, despite the announcement most users have been unable to access 5G in available areas as majority 5G handsets need an over-the-air (OTA) software update to latch on to 5G network.
As per the meeting agenda, the focus of the meeting is to enable the handsets of the customers to be ready for 5G services, and the intervention of handset manufacturers and telecom service providers to release software upgrades for all 5G handsets to push early adoption of 5G in India.
According to industry sources, Apple is currently working with operators to test any glitches on the new network before opening it up for consumers. For Samsung, some of its high-end devices are latching on to the 5G network, while for others an update is expected in a couple of days. However, Oppo has announced that all Airtel customers can experience seamless 5G connectivity on its 5G devices.
Giving an example of testing that needs to be done, an industry representative said, one of the things that the handset makers and operators need to ensure is that the network does not drop when users move from a 5G network area to a 4G network area or vice versa.