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5G for a digitally connected world

5G mobile communication technology represents a paradigm shift in the field of communications as it not only enables human to human communications but machine to machine communications in a digitally connected world with a variety of use cases.

5G will help to achieve India’s digital economy to USD 1 trillion by the year 2025 driven by increased proliferation of smart phones, increased internet penetration, growth of mobile broadband, growth of data and social media.

Key features of 5G technology

  • Enhanced mobile broadband with unprecedented data speeds – almost 20 times faster than 4G speed of typically below 50 mbps.
  • Low latency – Latency of 1 milli second for Ultra reliable low latency mission critical applications.
  • Internet of things- can connect growing number of devices containing several billion things.
  • Besides these, 5G also allows network slicing, which allows the same underlying physical network to be used to provide customizable, virtual networks. This in turn enables functionalities of interest to specific industries and other user groups.

Telecom infrastructure – Network densification
The demand for towers is likely to be more than treble to meet 5G requirements. This would be necessitated as 5G will operate in higher frequency band with lower coverage. While the new macro towers may not need to be as high and will mostly be the micro/small cells, the number of such micro/small cells will increase considerably, and they could be needed every few meters.It is estimated that approximately 1000 base station cells per square kilometre will be required.

The National Broadband Mission has rightly envisaged adding 10 lakh mobile towers by 2024 keeping in mind the launch of 5G services in the country.

Fiberised connectivity between telecom towers
With a speed of almost 100 times of a 4G network, it would not be possible to support such a high bandwidth over the MW network. The traffic between towers and from tower to the core network will require towers to be connected by optical fibre.

With barely 33 percent of towers currently connected by fibre, and the many more towers/micro cells yet to be deployed, fibre connectivity could be critical to the success of India’s 5G plans.

Keeping the 5G rollout in mind, National Broadband Mission (NBM) has rightly envisaged 70 percent of fiberized towers by the year 2024. In terms of OFC, India has roughly 2.2 million kms of fibre connectivity. NBM has a target to take it to 5.5 million by 2024.

Enhancement of IP-1s – A must for quick 5G rollout
5G based services and applications would require a ubiquitous and all pervasive 5G infrastructure, wherein macro cells would have to be supported by many small cells. Thus, the timely enhancement of scope of IP 1 to include active infrastructure sharing by DoT – would prove to be a boon for the telecom sector for attracting investments and faster rollout of 5G network.

Telecom, being a capital-intensive business, needs huge investment for growth, technology evolution and expansion. IP-1s being neutral host, would offer network with quick turnaround time for telecom towers, base stations, IBS, small cell etc. to service providers in a transparent and non-discriminatory basis to telecom service providers.

Eliminate digital inequality
5G would need ubiquitous coverage to be successful. Enabling it in just a few urban centers would create nothing but hotspots that will not deliver real-life 5G use cases. For example, for patient in a village trying to consult a doctor in a city over a video call, it would have to be ensured that both sides get the right experience requires the network, the app, and the CDN to all work in sync.

With the advent of 5G, edge data centers would become a common thing, requiring a high degree of cooperation between operators and CDNs. Apps would need to have their readiness and partner with both operators and CDNs to deliver content smoothly.

Beyond voice and data
5G will provide beyond the traditional voice and data through enabling technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality (AR/VR) etc. The 5G rollout would prove to be a boon even for the post pandemic world as digital enablement is going to be permanent and would be further strengthened by possibility of new applications over 5G.

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