With the launch of a cheap 5G smartphone from RealMe in India, the prospects of a 5G network in the short- to mid- term is becoming much more realistic.

For some, discussing the deployment of 5G network in India might be unusual. This is a market which has climbed the connectivity rungs very rapidly, and while the 4G mission is not complete, eyes are already being drawn to 5G.

This might be a slightly condescending comment on the Indian market, but network deployment is a time-consuming and expensive job. 4G would take up the majority of the time for almost every telco worldwide, though through the ambitious Reliance Jio, 5G might be on the horizon much sooner than most would have anticipated two to three years ago.

Mobile subscriptions in India (thousands) – Omdia Knowledge Centre – forecast

For India, all the pieces seem to be falling into place at the right time, but this digital transformation will be led by Reliance Jio.

Firstly, Reliance Jio is maintaining its disruptive attitude, and secondly, it has plenty of cash to throw at the situation. Interestingly enough, the latest investor in Reliance Jio is Qualcomm, a company which will certainly push the case for 5G. As with many other markets, an early mover in 5G will drag competitors forward also.

So far you have the ambitious telco and the investment. The Indian consumer has shown the appetite for the digital market, ticking another box, while the introduction of affordable 5G devices is a very important element.

RealMe is another company which has launched an interesting looking device. At the low-end, the X50 5G phone (64 GB, 6 GB RAM) is sub-$300, offering Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chipset, a 4200 mAh battery and all the mod-cons. Feedback on the device is largely positive, adding another cost-effective alternative to encourage 5G adoption outside the wealthy and privileged.

There are of course issues to address. Spectrum is still too expensive, while competition in the market is hanging on by a threat, but there is considerable opportunity here. The seemingly endless list of investors in Reliance Jio demonstrates the belief in this market, and 5G might be closer than some would presume.

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