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5G May Not See The Same Kind Of Adoption That 4G Witnessed In India

With 5G poised to become a part of mobile telephony in India, BusinessLine spoke to Patrik Cerwall, Head of Strategic Marketing, Business Area Networks, Ericsson. Cerwall was the Executive Editor of the recently-released Ericsson Mobility Report 2019, which projected 5G uptake in India along with other trends. Excerpts:

Can you give us an overview of data consumption in India?

We have seen so much traffic coming from India. The average data usage per smartphone grew to the extent that India is the region with the highest data traffic for a smartphone in a month…up to 9.8GB per month. This is due to networks in India and the available handsets.

But by 2024, we see this (data consumption) falling behind markets like the US and Europe(according to the Ericsson Mobility Report 2019)…

In many markets, 5G coming early is driving traffic. For instance, in the US and some markets in Western Europe we see that happening. Also, we will look at some other markets even though they might be lower in terms of cellular data usage on the smartphones; they also have additional WiFi use on their smartphones. So, in the US, for instance, two-thirds of it is WiFi and one-third is cellular, which basically means that the smartphone usage is higher in terms of total GB. In India, there’s less of WiFi and fibre use on top of cellular use.

Would it be safe to assume that 5G will not see the kind of meteoric adoption the way 4G did in a market like India?

The cost of devices is a key thing in adoption. Usually, on the third generation of chipsets, you see prices coming down. So you would probably see it coming down after couple of generations of devices. But I think there is a fair assumption that it may not be the same type of adoption as 4G had. But again when it comes to India, it’s very hard to predict because sometimes things happen in a way that you hadn’t forecast before.

Apart from the entertainment/personal-use factor, what do you think will be the other use-case scenarios for the early adoption of 5G in India, both on the public and enterprise front?

One use-case that will probably have a little bit of 4G, but then will continue on 5G — both in the consumer space and in the enterprise space — is augmented reality (AR). There are so many possibilities with AR, especially on devices at work. There are big reasons to use AR… trying to get additional information faster without having to go to online support and search for information. As soon as enterprises start using those technologies and provide their employees with those tools, I think that will have a lot of traffic and usage.

Any predictions that you have in terms of how the 4G uptake is going to coincide with 5G uptake, or do you see 5G coming to cities first, while 4G penetrates the rest of the country?

I think when it comes to new technology, and we’ve seen it in the past, you tend to build from cities. You start with highly dense urban areas and you build capacity with new technology in those places. It could be business centres… it could be stadiums.―The Hindu Business Line

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