Vodafone Idea, popularly known as Vi, may begin rolling out 5G services in June, according to a new report. The third-biggest telecom operator has reportedly forged partnerships with banks to secure funding for the deployment of 5G services. If true, Vi will become the third operator in India to roll out its 5G network more than six months after leading companies, Jio and Airtel, kicked off the deployment of their 5G networks. Also Read - Want a fancy mobile number? Jio's new postpaid service lets you buy one
According to a report by the New Indian Express, citing a senior official from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the fundraising discussions between Vi and partner banks are in the final stages and expected to be over some time in June. The report quoted the DoT official as saying that the discussions have so far been positive and the fundraising may be announced next month. Also Read - Vodafone Idea quietly launches two new prepaid plans in India: Check details
“As the company has maintained that it would start deploying a 5G network once funding is in place, I am expecting the company to start deploying 5G in June itself,” the official was quoted as saying. Also Read - Airtel vs Jio vs Vi vs BSNL: Best postpaid plans under Rs 1000 with OTT benefits
The DoT official also told the publication that Vi has cleared its license fee dues for the third quarter and even paid partially for the fourth quarter. The report said that Vi had been trying to raise funds to operate for years but there had been no luck so far. So this development comes as a relief to India’s third-largest telecom company after it suffered a series of turmoils. Earlier this year in February, the government converted the interest dues of about Rs 16,133 crore levied on Vi’s deferred adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and spectrum usage charge (SUC) into equity.
Even if Vi begins the deployment of 5G services in June, it is quite behind its rivals. Last year in October, all three private telecom companies, Reliance Jio, Airtel, and Vi, announced kicking off the 5G deployment in the presence of India’s prime minister and telecom minister. However, only Jio and Airtel immediately managed to roll out their 5G services. With a goal to deploy 5G to the entire country by the end of this year or early 2024, Airtel and Jio have covered around 4,000 cities collectively.