India has been witnessing an uptick in data consumption, with Indian consumers spending a total of 4 hours 48 minutes on their smartphone per day – highest in the world. We have also seen the average monthly data usage per user grow almost 17 times over the last five years (source: Nokia Mbit report Feb 2021).
This is further set to change once 5G is introduced in India as 5G is set to bring a paradigm shift in the role of mobile technologies beyond connectivity. Along with related technologies like edge computing and augmented intelligence/machine learning, 5G will enable CSPs to address new segments like automotive, energy, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, public transport, among others. Furthermore, it will also lay the foundation for a connected digital society.
5G brings a range of business opportunities for CSPs, broadly under three main categories:
- Extreme mobile broadband–AR/VR, ultra-HD streaming, FWA (fixed-wireless access) among others;
- Critical machine-type communication – Autonomous vehicles, remote surgeries, robotics, transportation, etc; and
- Massive machine-type communications – Agriculture, smart homes, fleet management, smart meters, and others.
We are seeing exciting 5G use-cases across various industries and sectors, and some of the top 5G-enabled use-cases are:
- Fixed-wireless access – FWA can be offered to consumers and enterprises as an alternative to fixed broadband, and for providing high-speed connectivity to remote areas and locations where laying fiber is not feasible;
- Video – Video applications are already very popular, and 5G brings significant improvement to enhance the overall experience;
- Immersive experience – AR/VR and cloud gaming will piggyback on the 5G for low latency, higher bandwidth, and seamless experience;
- Smart venues – Live video streams, AR displays, 3D hologram footage for sports events, concerts, festivals, etc; and
- Industry 4.0 and private wireless – 5G offers physical industries the capability to bridge the productivity gap between them and the digital industries, thereby enhancing the productivity of the entire economy. Industrial-grade private wireless is best suited to cost-effectively implement the widest range of Industry 4.0 applications and use-cases at scale with minimal infrastructure.
Economic potential and social benefits
On a global scale, Nokia Bell Labs research in 2020 found that 5G has the potential to contribute USD 8 trillion to global GDP by 2030. On the domestic front, 5G is predicted to create a cumulative economic impact of USD 1 trillion by 2035 in India as per TRAI. Furthermore, KPMG report in 2019 estimated that India Inc. has the potential to unlock USD 48.69 billion in four years through the deployment of 5G.
5G will enable a range of new services in healthcare to expand remote medical facilities that can save lives. 5G-driven remote education will help children in remote and rural areas, with easy access to quality education by removing physical and language barriers.
Agriculture will also benefit immensely from 5G with the deployment of smart agriculture-as-a-service solution. This solution will include soil probes, weather stations, insect traps, and crop cameras to help drive productivity. We will also see 5G-enabled integrated traffic lights and smart parking solutions, which will help make daily commuting faster and safer.
Last piece of the puzzle – ensuring widespread adoption
5G is the first mobile technology designed for machines and systems in addition to people and carries a huge potential for value creation. Awareness and skill development would be the key drivers for making 5G a success in India.
Further, successful adoption of 5G will take the combined efforts of the government, CSPs, equipment vendors, enterprise, and ecosystem partners. Cooperation among the stakeholders will be key to making 5G a reality in India and realizing its full economic and social value.