Future of 4G technology in India

To some of us it only looked like yesterday when 4G came to India, but to others gone are the days of 4G and 5G is the only thing to talk about. While it is true that 5G is the future and deserves our attention, experts still believe 4G has quite a few years remaining in India. They believe it will be a while before 5G networks are up and running in the entire country and it seems telecom companies tend to agree with them as they are still heavily investing in India’s 4G network.

Today we look at where 4G stands in India, what its future will be, especially in the realm of future investment and most important of all how it will be affected by introduction of both 5G networks and Satellite internet.

A look at the scope of 4G in India and the operators who are providing the best service.

4G service nowadays is PAN India meaning spread across the entire nation. In the last quarter of 2020 4G service metric stood at 93.5 percent, but in the second quarter of 2021 it stood at 96 percent. A growth of 2.5% may not look much to a layman but considering India’s vastness it is considerable. Of all the players who are helping increase 4G network’s range in India, Jio has a considerable lead over its competitors, not only in area of coverage but also in median download speed. Vodafone-Idea on the other hand leads the country in median upload speed and has the lowest latencies.

Future of telcos investment in India’s 4G network

As mentioned before, yes 5G is the future and its arrival in India is imminent. Even then most telecom companies know that investing money to improve existing 4G services will be profitable in the long run. They know without a doubt that for the foreseeable future, 4G will remain the dominant mobile network in India, even as 5G begins to scale.  

Another important distinction we need to make is that any investment made in this sector is not solely for 4G. It will also improve 5G service in India, whether it is the acquisition of new cell sites, improving core networks or backhaul or even transport for that matter. Any and all investment will improve prospects for both 4G and 5G networks.

Congestion in the network and steps to remedy it.

Congestion in 4G networks is a complicated issue, which both telecom companies and the government are trying to tackle. Steps have been taken by companies to increase capacity by investing more in the physical network and most important of all, efforts have been made to acquire more spectrum

But the real relief will come with the auction of 5G spectrums, which have a wider band and offer much more capacity than 4G networks. And as users migrate to 5G bands it will inevitably reduce congestion in the 4G network.

Satellite internet, a competitor for 4G networks?

In the last few years, you might have heard of Starlink by SpaceX or OneWeb. If not these are Low Earth Orbit or in short LEO satellite broadband companies, who aim to change how the internet is provided to the world. When it comes to satellite broadband, they have changed the entire model. Once fully up and running LEO will provide high speed broadband at reduced cost throughout the globe.

One cannot speak of the future, but for now the classical broadband model remains more viable in India, for both consumers and providers. Satellite Broadband is still in its infancy and its prices are too high and coverage too small, compared to fixed internet technologies in not just India but around the globe. While this will eventually change in the future, for now 4G networks can feel at ease as satellite broadband will remain a niche play for a while.

Timeline of India’s 5G network

5G networks are already up and running in countries like the US and the UK. Even though India lags behind them in 5G technology, all indications show that India will be launching its 5G network, sometime next year. Trials are already being conducted by major telcos like Jio, Airtel and Vi and so far, they have been successful in achieving good 5G speeds. Behind the scenes work is being done to quickly provide 5G services once the spectrums become available.


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