Recently, Hutch Sri Lanka announced that the company has completed its island-wide coverage efforts for 4G. So, if you’ve got yourself a Hutch connection, you should be able to experience Hutch 4G anywhere from Sri Lanka. But you might be wondering why Hutch is introducing 4G now. Aren’t they a little late to the party?
Getting Hutch 4G to all parts of Sri Lanka
When Hutch Sri Lanka first announced that it will launch 4G, many asked this exact question. True, 4G has been around for a while. But as Thirukumar Nadarasa – CEO of Hutchison Telecommunications Sri Lanka puts it, mass adoption wasn’t something possible until recently. Why? Because like most new technologies, 4G wasn’t affordable enough for everyone to get on board. Today, almost every smartphone comes with 4G-enabled. Hutch sees this as the opportune moment to offer the technology for Sri Lankans.
The telco officially commenced their 4G operations in 2018. During the same year, Hutch also announced a Hutch-Etisalat Sri Lanka merger. According to Hutch, one of the reasons for the move is to capitalise on Etisalat’s existing resources to expand 4G coverage. By July 2019, Hutch 4G coverage reached 10 districts, thanks in part to the Etisalat network. It took the company a little less than 8 months to complete the remaining districts.
5G is coming. But 4G is still ripe for opportunity
While Hutch Sri Lanka announced island-wide coverage for 4G, the likes of Dialog and Mobitel are already bombarding the media with 5G news. As of now, Dialog kicked off its cross country tour of live 5G showcase from Kegalle. Meanwhile Mobitel now offers customers to experience 5G at its store in One Galle Face.
Forecasted figures suggest 5G consumers will hit 2.6 billion by 2025. But we’re probably a year or two away from having 5G as the standard. But the above goes to show how much emphasis telecom operators are placing on the technology. After all, its an environment where 5G is heralded as a “revolutionary step in technology”. So where does this put Hutch 4G? Granted, 5G does offer a lot of potential to many industries. But that doesn’t mean 4G is redundant. In fact, is still ripe for opportunity.
Furthermore, Sri Lanka still has low adoption rates for 3G and 4G. As per TRC data, as of December 2019 only 35.7% of the total mobile subscribers are on 3G or 4G. In other words, there are over 21 million reported mobile subscriptions that aren’t on 3G. Of course, actual numbers may vary if you take active/non-active connections into account.
Nevertheless, upgrading from 2G and 3G to 4G alone would go a long way. Think HD streaming on YouTube without worrying about lag, or just simple seamless internet surfing. Additionally, even services that rely on the internet to operate such as ride-hailing apps and eCommerce platforms, would be left at better hands. Thereby, getting the 4G numbers up might be more revolutionary than getting caught up in the hype for 5G right now.
It’s a similar story in some tech-centric countries like India. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report for November 2019, India’s 4G connections are expected to grow from 48% in 2019 to 80% in 2025. However, 5G services are only expected to commence in 2022 in India.
Can we expect an upgraded customer experience from the telcos?
The point is there’s still a lot left to be done in the 4G space. Hutch may be late to the party, but their strategy isn’t to grab the first mover advantage. Launching Hutch 4G island-wide while merging with Etisalat Sri Lanka, puts the company as a serious competitor in the telecom sector. This is while even Dialog Axiata doesn’t offer island-wide 4G coverage.
In the end, the competition would only translate to better offerings for the consumer. On one hand, Hutch and Etisalat customers can finally enjoy 4G. On the other hand, Mobitel and Dialog may need to step up their game if the two companies wouldn’t want their users to see Hutch as a viable alternative.
As for Hutch Sri Lanka’s 5G plans, the company will follow a similar strategy. So, you might not hear about Hutch 5G at least for the next couple of years.