It’s been four months since 5G services were rolled out by the country’s top two telecom service providers, but subscribers using Google Pixel phones, and certain variants of Xiaomi, Poco, Vivo, and Oppo are still not able to avail the services despite having a 5G handset. The reason being that the manufacturers have still not provided for a software update, which makes the services compatible with the handsets.
With complaints coming from a section of users, the department of telecommunications (DoT) has decided to convene a meeting of these operators to assess why there’s been a delay in providing the software update. Officials said that the DoT may set a firm deadline for these device makers to provide the necessary software update.
DoT had held a meeting on the issue in October 2022, a few weeks after the launch of the services and gave the operators till December to come up with the software update. “They (handset makers) are bound to release the software updates. We will take stock of the situation as it is about 5G experience of the users,” an official said. “There were about 163 models of 5G smartphones and out of that only 10-15 were left till last time we tracked,” another official added. Currently, 5G services are available in over 300 cities across the country.
According to India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA), there are about 110 million 5G-enabled activated smartphones in the country.
Further, there are more than 200 models of 5G smartphones across brands like Apple, Samsung, Lava, Vivo, OnePlus, etc.
While other smartphone brands have most of their smartphones compatible with 5G, Google has not issued the update on its Pixel smartphones to its users in the country. “We have been actively working with Indian carriers on the various requirements that go into provisioning 5G and look forward to rolling this out for Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6a in Q1 2023 (January-March),” Google said.
Last month, Pixel released the beta software update for 5G under which users who have access to the beta update programme can test the 5G services on their Pixel phones.
Not happy with the delay in smartphone updates, many users also took to Twitter to seek answers from the respective brands. Apart from Pixel series phones, some of the complaints on 5G update issue was related to Mi10i by Xiaomi, Poco F3 GT, Poco F4, Oppo Reno6 Pro, Vivo Y75, etc.
“To ensure the effective implementation of 5G in India and build a robust ecosystem, we have launched over 20 5G-enabled devices ready for both SA (standalone architecture) & NSA (non-standalone architecture) networks. With 100% of our 5G smartphone models supporting the NSA network out of the box, and 16 devices from our portfolio already receiving OTA updates for seamless SA support, we have been spearheading the 5G adoption. Moreover, timely OTA updates will ensure sustained support across the portfolio as and when the network is rolled out in more and more cities to drive 5G growth in India,” said Muralikrishnan B, president at Xiaomi India.
“In our approach to enable 5G, we will ensure that 5G is interoperable with earlier 4G/3G networks so that users get a seamless experience,” he added.
A Vivo spokesperson said, “Vivo has launched around 20 5G enabled smartphones in the Indian market. We have provided 5G updated software for all the models supporting both NSA and SA mode in November 2022.”
While Oppo could not be reached for comments immediately, queries sent to Poco did not elicit any response till the time of going to the press.
When a user asked Xiaomi with regard to 5G update on Mi10i, the company’s customer care responded, “Qualcomm is not recommending support of 5G SA and there is no plan to provide Jio 5G support”, according to the screenshot shared. Mi10i is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 750 5G processor.
As per Qualcomm’s official releases, both its processors like Snapdragon 750G and 865 chipsets support both non-standalone and standalone 5G architectures. On 5G update for Reno6 Pro, last week, Oppo said, “the 5G connectivity for Oppo Reno6 Pro will be enabled in the upcoming software update”. “The awareness regarding the 5G software update on smartphones among consumers is super low. Majority of the users have no idea about how transition from 4G to 5G will happen. The onus to create awareness lies on the companies,” said Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint.