Future of 5G in India
India’s digital future is all set to accelerate with the ongoing thrust to develop 5G infrastructure by 2020. The 5th generation of wireless technology will not only boost data speeds but also disrupt traditional industries like agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and education – through the internet of things. However, like every path-breaking development, adoption of such magnitude has spawned various issues and challenges that need consensus-building, analysis and groupthink. Be it technology selection or investments or collaborations or implementation or even maintenance – the race to Digital India by 2020 can only be won by putting the best minds in one place – together – focused on sharing insights, expanding horizons and identifying opportunities.
5G, the fifth generation of cellular communication technology, promises not just faster download speeds but also other enhancements – such as lower latency – which will be required for the coming wave of tech (IoT devices, self-driving cars, etc). 5G networks will use radio technology known as 5G NR (New Radio). This allocates chunks of radio bands, some below 6GHz, and others above 24GHz (also known as mmWave). In contrast, 4G LTE frequencies are much lower (Band 5 is around the 800MHz mark while Band 40 is around the 2300Mhz mark).
India is also in the midst of preparing for 5G networks. TRAI has chosen the 3.3Ghz to 3.6Ghz band as the main band for 5G (spectrum availability is limited as much of it is earmarked for defence and government purposes), while many telcos have expressed concern that the asking price could be too high to make services financially viable in a price-sensitive market like ours. According to current plans, the TRAI envisages spectrum auction to be completed this year, with commercial roll-out sometime in 2020.
Cellular technologies – 2G, 3G, 4G – have all been about personal transformation through mobile phone and Smartphone-led communication. However, 5G brings a whole new architectural change. It will drive personal, business, and social transformation by connecting industries, enterprises, homes, vehicles, and cities to internet and cloud in real-time. This will help drive productivity, improve efficiencies, enable richer content consumption, and build intelligence experiences. The positive impact of 5G is going to be unparalleled in India, potentially the world’s second-largest market in terms of the scale of mobile users, enterprises, and cities undergoing digital transformation.
There is no doubt that commercial deployment of 5G will necessitate major ecosystem changes in terms of spectrum usage, network infrastructure, and devices. It is therefore imperative for the government to price spectrum reasonably and rationalize myriad levies and taxes so that 5G services can be implemented seamlessly. 5G will not only have use cases unique to the country, such as driverless vehicles, smart healthcare, smart agriculture, smart transportation, etc, but it would also revolutionize business landscapes and networks.
India is on track of becoming a trillion-dollar digital economy and the evolving digital metrics are creating inroads for newer technologies and solutions. As digital adoption continues to grow phenomenally, India is all set to experience 5G and mobile-led technologies in a big way by being one of the few countries in the world that are ready to commercially adopt and deploy the 5G eco-system.
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