According to officials familiar with the matter, the directive on updates was given at a meeting with telecom carriers and smartphone makers on Wednesday, which was chaired by the Secretary for Electronics and Technology. information, Alkesh Kumar Sharma. Telecommunications Secretary K Rajaraman did not attend the meeting due to health issues.
“Telecom carriers must notify when 5G sites are added while smartphone manufacturers must provide a list of models that support 5G,” one of the officials told ET.
In separate statements on Wednesday, Apple said it would roll out updates in December, while Samsung set the timeline for mid-November.
Wednesday’s meeting brought together representatives from smartphone brands including Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Transsion, Lava, Karbonn, Realme, Micromax, Motorola, Oppo, OnePlus and Vivo. Representatives from the India Cellular and Electronics Association, Qualcomm, UTL Neolync, as well as operators such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea were also present.
The meeting came after consumer feedback that although some telecom operators have said 5G services are available in some cities, subscribers cannot benefit from 5G connectivity. While telcos say they are calibrating 5G site rollout due to the lack of a device ecosystem with only 8-9% of all devices supporting 5G, some smartphone makers say they didn’t offer support as they are still testing performance quality and battery. life, since the networks are still unequal.
The government’s main areas of concern relate to 5G support for Apple and Samsung devices, officials said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the launch of 5G services in India on October 1. On the same day, Airtel announced the launch of services in eight cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, while Reliance Jio launched beta trial services in four cities on October 4, including the three metropolitan cities and Varanasi by invitation only. .
However, the majority of devices from Chinese handset brands like Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo and Vivo have already enabled 5G support on Airtel’s network in their portfolio of 5G smartphones launched since 2020.
In a statement, iPhone maker Apple said it will provide the software update to support 5G services in India in December. “We are working with our carrier partners in India to deliver the best 5G experience to iPhone users as soon as network validation and quality and performance testing is complete. 5G will be enabled through a software update and will begin to rolling out to iPhone users in December,” Apple said.
The government wants the update to roll out before December. According to telecom industry officials, Apple is in the final stages of device testing with Bharti Airtel’s non-standalone and Reliance Jio’s standalone networks and is working to release software updates sooner, perhaps. be in November.
Apple is currently testing 5G-enabled iPhones that include the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and iPhone 14 series as well as the iPhone SE (3rd generation) on carriers that have rolled out 5G services in the country. Given that only Airtel and Reliance Jio have launched 5G services so far, the Cupertino-based major will likely have to run another round of tests with Vodafone Idea’s cash-strapped 5G network when it comes on. Apple holds around 3% market share in the domestic smartphone market by volume and 11% by revenue share, according to data from Counterpoint Research.
Korean major Samsung is also working fast to release the software update to most devices at the earliest.
“In India, Samsung has the widest portfolio of 5G devices. We are working closely with our carrier partners and are committed to rolling out OTA (over-the-air) updates to all our 5G devices by mid-November 2022, enabling Indian consumers to enjoy 5G seamlessly,” said a spokesperson for Samsung India. Samsung is the second-largest smartphone brand in India, with a 19% volume share.
“Currently, 100% of our 5G smartphone models support NSA (non-standalone) network out of the box,” said Muralikrishnan B, President of Xiaomi India.
“While, for seamless SA support, we have already started rolling out FOTA updates to select devices like Xiaomi 12 Pro 5G, Mi 11X Pro, Xiaomi 11i, Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge, among others. Most devices will start receiving OTA updates by Diwali,” he added.
Google added that its Pixel 7, 7 Pro and Pixel 6a are 5G-enabled devices. “We are actively working with Indian carriers to enable the feature at the earliest.”
Industry experts ET spoke to Samsung and Apple tend to take some time to test and validate the network experience on their handsets to ensure smoother reception and optimize excessive network drain. the battery during the early days of 5G rollout when telecom operators have yet to install the necessary infrastructure covering all areas in key cities.
So, for example, if only a few cell sites have been enabled with 5G in a major city like Delhi, 5G smartphones even after the update will continue to search for the network in areas where there is no 5G reception due to lack of infrastructure, leading to poor cellular performance and excessive battery drain.