Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has launched the 5G telecom network in the country and termed it the beginning of a “step towards the new era.”
The next generation of mobile telephony, a step above India’s already existing 4G network, will be available to citizens almost five years after the first steps towards its launch were taken.
Connectivity will be spread out to cover the entire country over the next couple of years.
The cumulative economic impact of 5G on India is estimated to reach $450bn by 2035, according to officials.
“This event will be etched in history,” said Mr Modi, launching the services in the presence of the country’s telecom providers at an event in New Delhi on Saturday.
He added that this was “the beginning of infinite opportunities” and a “step towards the new era in the country”.
Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani, whose company is one of the main players in the country’s telecom sector, was present during the event.
Reliance’s telecom company Jio will launch affordable 5G services and cover the entire country by December 2023, Mr Ambani said.
Also at the event, federal minister of state for communications Devusinh Jesingbhai Chauhan said the country will “surely make 6G soon”.
Bharti Airtel, Jio’s competitor, will be launching the service in eight Indian cities, including in four metros, on Saturday.
Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said they will progressively cover the entire country by March 2024.
“With 2G, 3G and 4G, India was dependent on other nations. However, with 5G, India has set the global standard in telecom technology,” Mr Modi said at the event.
“5G can unleash new economic opportunities and societal benefits, giving it the potential for being a transformational force for Indian society,” said an official government release, according to news channel NDTV.
“It will help the country leapfrog the traditional barriers to development, spur innovations by startups and business enterprises.”