As many as 31 million smartphone users in India are expected to upgrade to 5G phones between now and December, a report by Ericsson said on Tuesday underlining the accelerated pace at which the world’s second largest telecom market is adopting the ultra high-speed services. 

Ericsson estimates the current base of 5G handset users in India to be between 80 and 100 million.

5G services were launched in India in October last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the past months have seen a rapid rollout of these services across the length and breadth of the country by operators like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.

Swedish telecom maker Ericsson’s Consumer Lab’s Global Survey released on Tuesday pointed out that 5G users in India stand out for their high quality daily engagement with apps, such as streaming high definition video, video calling services, mobile gaming and augmented reality.

Among the big takeaways were the 5G satisfaction levels, and the willingness — by a section of those polled — to shell out a premium for innovative services and differentiated 5G connectivity.

On an average, Indian 5G users spend two more hours per week using these services compared to users in other early adopter 5G markets such as the US, the UK, South Korea, China and others.

“We estimate about 31 million users will upgrade to 5G phones in the remainder months of 2023,” Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Head of Ericsson Consumer Labs said during a briefing.

Another key finding of the report was that India’s 5G satisfaction levels rivalled or surpassed 5G early adopter markets.

“A total of 15 percent of Indian consumers are interested in adding application bundles, including video on demand, gaming and music, to their 5G plans, even at a higher cost. They are prepared to pay a 14 percent premium for these services,” the Ericsson report said.

While demand for larger data buckets remains the most prominent expectation among consumers for 5G plans, notably 31 percent of 5G users tend to deplete their data allocations by the end of the month. A larger portion, 58 percent of 5G users find themselves with more than 30GB of unused data by the month’s end.

“This suggests a clear need for service providers to explore more innovative approaches in crafting their 5G monetisation strategy beyond just offering higher data allowances to better align with consumer preferences and usage patterns,” the report advocated.

As 5G coverage expands in India, there is a significant opportunity to unlock greater value.

“By offering segmented 5G propositions using QoS (quality of service) offerings, providers can tap into the 22 per cent of smartphone users who express interest and are willing to pay a 13 percent premium for such enhanced experiences,” it said.

Recently, Ookla said the launch of 5G services in India turbocharged mobile download speeds here, pushing the country’s ranking 72 notches higher to 47th spot in Speedtest Global Index, ahead of nations like Japan, the UK and Brazil.

India’s speed performance has zoomed 3.59 times since the introduction of 5G, Ookla said dubbing the country’s 5G advancement as “remarkable”.

In this global pecking order, India ranked not only ahead of its neighbours like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, but also some G20 countries, such as Mexico (90th), Turkey (68th), the UK (62nd), Japan (58th), Brazil (50th ), and South Africa (48th place). 

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