Telecom leaders propose government intervention to transition users from 2G to 4G/5G 

Telecom leaders propose government intervention to transition users from 2G to 4G/5G 

Telecom leaders propose government intervention to transition users from 2G to 4G/5G 

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In a noteworthy development, Jio and Vodafone Idea (Vi) have jointly suggested the implementation of a government policy aimed at phasing out outdated 2G and 3G networks in favour of advancing to modern 4G and 5G technologies. 

Jio, a major player in India’s telecom sector, has emphasized the need for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to advocate for a systematic shutdown of legacy networks to streamline operations and ensure a seamless transition for all consumers.

Vi, in its Q3FY24 earnings report, revealed that it has already “shut down 3G completely” across select circles, strategically refarming spectrum resources. 

The telecom giant believes that a clear government policy to retire 2G and 3G networks will eliminate unnecessary costs associated with maintaining outdated infrastructure and encourage users to migrate to more advanced services.

Jio, the sole carrier without a 2G network, has consistently emphasized the need to upgrade approximately 250 million 2G users to 4G. The company has introduced affordable 4G feature phones and smartphones to facilitate this transition. Jio’s proposal aligns with its commitment to a robust 5G ecosystem, suggesting that the shutdown of older networks would accelerate the development of 5G use cases.

While Vi supports Jio’s stance, it goes a step further by proposing that the government tap into the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to finance a smartphone subsidy scheme. 

This scheme aims to enable rural masses, who cannot afford modern handsets, to upgrade to newer technologies like 5G. Vi has already shut down 3G networks across multiple circles, emphasizing its commitment to digital transformation.

Both telecom giants highlight the societal impact of delaying the shift from feature phones to smartphones. Vi underscores that this shift will not only enhance rural accessibility to newer technologies but also bridge the digital divide, fostering economic participation and technological inclusion.

Despite Jio’s proactive approach to 5G rollouts and Vi’s strategic shutdown of 3G networks, Bharti Airtel, the second-largest telecom operator, did not provide a submission on the proposed network shutdown. Airtel’s CEO, Gopal Vittal, previously ruled out any immediate plans to switch off 2G, suggesting that such a decision should align with the revenue generated by these services.

As India stands at the cusp of digital transformation, the telecom industry’s proposals reflect a collective effort to modernize networks, enhance connectivity, and ensure widespread access to advanced technologies.

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