Vodafone Idea (Vi) is the only private telco in India which seems to be lagging in the 5G rollout. The other two operators, including Jio and Airtel, have already announced their 5G rollout plans. At the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, said, “Vodafone Idea would soon start 5G journey”. The question goes back to the funding woes that Vodafone Idea is facing. The telco’s recently appointed CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Akshaya Moondra, had said that Vi is currently in talks with several banks to arrange funding and is also talking with the vendors.
But the pending dues are the reason why the telco looks like it is in trouble. Vodafone Idea is the only telecom operator in India right now, which is not profitable in the private sector. The telco displayed a variety of use cases at the IMC 2022. The telco isn’t going to be able to work things out until and unless it can get funding from the banking institutions.
The telco had participated in the 5G spectrum auctions of 2022. Vodafone Idea has the necessary spectrum and would look to deploy 5G in 17 of its priority circles. Vi has both mmWave as well as mid-band spectrum available for deployment.
Vi would also launch 5G NSA (non-standalone) networks whenever it decides to launch 5G services. This would mean that the telco’s 5G network would likely run on the existing 4G SIM cards of the users. Since the 5G plans of Vi aren’t clear right now, the telco has a risk of losing users who want to consume and experience 5G as and when it is available from the other operators.
Vodafone Idea’s booth at the IMC 2022 at Pragati Maidan displayed several use cases, amongst which there was cloud gaming for the consumers.