Despite the launch of Reliance’s 5G broadband service, Reliance Air Fibre in September – data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India reports that subscription rates for fixed wireless broadband have only reduced in September and October. 

TRAI data stated that the monthly growth rate for fixed wireless subscribers in September and October was -2.51 per cent and -1.24 per cent respectively. To put this in perspective, in August TRAI had reported a monthly growth rate of 2.82 per cent in this category. 

5G broadband service is a wireless broadband service, which uses mm-wave spectrum to provide broadband-like internet services to households, instead of more traditional connectivity means of optic fibre cables. It is also the first monetisable use case for 5G, which is finding limited takers in the current market since most users have no need for higher connectivity speeds than 4G (at least at a price differential). 

  • Also read: Jio deploying a 5G cell every 10 seconds, its 5G internet speed amongst the fastest: Akash Ambani
5G Scepticism

Reliance claims that its Air Fibre service will revolutionise the Indian fixed broadband market, especially as optic fibre connectivity remains hard to be laid out in India. However, a senior executive at a competitive telecom operator told businessline thatfixed wireless broadband through 5G can never replace traditional optic fibre connectivity, which will drive most of the growth in the market. This means that there is an even larger dearth of monetisable 5G use cases than envisaged. 

At present there is only a subscriber base of 0.95 million that use fixed wireless broadband services in India. To put this number in perspective there are 37.35 million fixed wireline broadband subscribers. 

The same TRAI report also showed that Bharti Airtel lost 1.2 million active subscribers in October, which is the highest in the last 17 months, according to data from the TRAI. Out of the total 378.13 million subscribers, the company’s active subscribers at the end of October were at 374.96 million, a loss of 1.2 million from the previous month.

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