Govt summons telcos, phone companies over 5G delays

NEW DELHI: The government is concerned over the slow pace of 5G rollout in the country, despite telcos making a public announcement about the launch in presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It has now summoned top mobile operators, key smartphone makers, and other infrastructure providers to understand the reasons for delays.
Top sources in department of telecom (DoT) told TOI that the government wants to take stock of the situation, especially as it had allocated 5G spectrum frequencies in a record time after the completion of auctions on August 1. “We want to understand the reasons which are causing delays, and if these can be sorted out with our intervention,” a source said.

Airtel, which had on October 1 announced a rollout across eight cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Varanasi during the annual India Mobile Congress where the PM was also present, has not been able to offer full-fledged 5G services across targeted areas. Many officials are blaming testing protocols of device makers such as Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus.
Reliance Jio, that was earlier planning to launch services from Diwali, hastened a soft rollout in certain cities from October 5. It said free upgrade for customers is being done on a beta test basis.
Vodafone Idea, the third-largest private operator, is yet to announce a timeline.
While the government and the industry try to sort out the matter, mobile operators have squarely blamed device makers in private conversations. Mobile operators argue device makers are yet to provide software upgrades to a majority of 5G smartphones to read the new frequency bands.
Companies such as Apple and Samsung have been carrying out testing and validation processes.
Sources said apart from the DoT, the meeting would also have officials from the ministry of IT & electronics. The latter interacts with device makers on a regular basis.
TOI was the first to report in its edition dated October 4 that despite the announced 5G rollout, companies such as Airtel have not been able to offer consumer services. The issue has already seen companies getting a lot of flak on social media.

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