India is at the cusp of a digital revolution powered by increasing broadband and internet penetration, exponential data uptake, the government’s focus on digitalisation and increasing trend of technology adoption across all sectors.
The telecommunication sector in India has undergone an incredible growth since the first licenses for mobile services were issued in November 1994, to becoming one of the world’s fastest growing and competitive markets with over 1.43 billion mobile subscribers till date. As of July 2020, India has the second- largest mobile subscribers in the world. This revolution is likely to generate new growth avenues, boost industrial productivity and has the potential to transform the socio- economic fabric of the country.
The current 4G technology can provide desired connectivity and data usage demand of the subscribers. However, the mobile subscribers’ data usage is showing a very high growth rate and requirement for high speed and high capacity data is already in demand from enterprises, industries, educational institutions, manufacturing units, healthcare sector, retails, housing societies etc. To cater to these new data demands, there is need to deploy 5G at the earliest.
5G will be a long leap into the technological revolution that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices. It is an opportunity to create an agile, tailored to the purpose-built network to cater to the different needs of businesses and the economy. 5G proliferations will allow operators to move beyond connectivity and collaborate across sectors such as finance, transport, retail and health to deliver new rich services to consumers and businesses. 5G will provide seamless coverage, high data rate, low latency, and highly reliable communications.
5G is expected to add various service dimensions 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. giving rise to use cases across industry verticals. Use cases such as smart cities, smart manufacturing, smart agriculture, and smart healthcare are possible with the adoption of 5G Technology.
It will allow higher quality video services with mobility at high speed, business automation delivered through billions
of connected devices, delivery of critical services such as tele-surgery and autonomous cars assured by low latency and ultra-reliable networks, and improved productivity assisted by high quality, real time data analytics. Unlike existing mobile communication networks, 5G networks will allow tailoring of requirements for each of these different use cases within the same network through network slicing.
5G incorporates both a new radio access technology, known as New Radio (NR), and a new core network, known as the 5G Core (5GC). This agile core will allow mobile operators to deploy and coordinate an ecosystem of heterogeneous networks in order to provide a tailor- made connectivity service to their customers. 5G also uses wider bandwidth technologies such as sub-6 GHz and mmWave. In view of high spectrum efficiency in 5G technology strategic deployment of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) can be a game changer for the broadband solution for home and enterprise both.
5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi- Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform experience to more users. 5G networks will provide between 10–100 times faster data rates and latency that are up to 10 times smaller when compare current 4G networks. This improved performance will come from using more efficient radio technologies i.e. spectral efficiencies, using more spectrum bandwidth i.e. spectral capacity and more network densification i.e. more spectral reuse.
Use of 5G
5G is used across three main types of connected services, including enhanced mobile broadband, mission-critical communications, and the massive IoT. A defining capability of 5G is that it is designed for forward compatibility–the ability to flexibly support future services that are unknown today.
- Enhanced Mobile broadband (eMBB). In addition to making our smartphones better, 5G mobile technology can usher in new immersive experiences such as VR and AR with faster, more uniform data rates, lower latency, and lower cost-per-bit.
- Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC). 5G can enable new services that can transform industries with ultra-reliable, available, low-latency links like remote control of critical infrastructure, vehicles, and medical procedures and other mission critical communications.
- Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC). 5G is meant to seamlessly connect a massive number of embedded sensors in virtually everything through the ability to scale down in data rates, power, and mobility–providing extremely lean and low-cost connectivity solutions.
Steps taken by the Government of India
- The government has launched a program titled Building an end-to-end 5G test bed to advance innovation and research in 5G. This three-year program began in March 2018, with a budget authorization of `2,240 million. The program envisages close collaboration between the universities and small technology companies. The goal of the program is to build proof- of-concept 5G prototypes that are broadly compliant with the 3GPP standards. Several academic R&D programs around 5G themes have also been funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
- The National Digital Communications Policy-2018 (NDCP-2018), released in 2018, envisions supporting India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society by fulfilling the information and communications needs of citizens and enterprises by establishment of a ubiquitous, resilient and affordable Digital Communications Infrastructure and Services. With respect to the rollout of 5G services, NDCP- 2018 envisages enabling hi-speed Internet, Internet of Things and M2M by rollout of 5G
- Government plans to conduct spectrum auction for 5G services soon to enable the roll-out of commercial services using the technology at the
- On July 23, 2019, DoT has issued guidelines for 5G trials across all available spectrum bands indicating to allocate up to 400 MHz of radio waves for The guidelines typical values may be up to 100 MHz in 3.5 GHz band, 400 MHz in 26 GHz band and other potential millimetre bands.
- DoT and TSDSI in collaboration with the IITs have been successful in getting the Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) use case accepted in the International Mobile Telecommunications-2020 (IMT-2020) Incorporation of LMLC in IMT2020 will help address the requirements of typical Indian rural settings and will be a key enabler for bridging the rural-urban divide with 5G rollouts.
Way forward to operationalize 5G in India
- Increase It is like a prerequisite for success of 5G.
- Opening of E-band for meeting immediate backhaul requirement. In India, about 31 percent sites are connected on fiber and rest are on microwave links. While fiber-based backhaul can offer unlimited capacity and low latency that are prerequisite for 5G applications, microwave frequencies available in India can only deliver backhaul capacity of 250 to 500 Mbps. Thus, presently available backhaul solutions with operators will not be enough. While fiberization is the best solution, the cost of laying and maintaining OFC is high and it may not be feasible to lay fiber everywhere. E-band (71-76 paired with 81-86 GHz) is an important band which can be used for providing rapid and economical deployment of backhaul in dense urban routes for proliferation of wireless services quickly.
- RoW issue. Considering the increasing need for fiberization and small cell deployment for densification of network, it is critical that the RoW permission, access to street infrastructure and other approvals be made simpler, time-bound and non-discriminatory. Further, these facilities be made available at reasonable charges. Enabling policies, i.e. RoW Rules, 2016 and NDCP-2018 are already in place, it is high time that the efforts are made on the practical implementation of these policies.
- Promote infrastructure sharing (both, active as well as passive). Sharing of the infrastructure and resources plays a vital role in bringing down prices and improving affordability of While on the one hand it helps in speedy rollout of services and applications, on the other hand it maximizes return on investments, and thereby attracts more investment and creates new jobs.
Socio-economic effect of 5G
The combination of flexible, high speed 5G networks with AI and IoT will underpin the new age of Intelligent Connectivity. The 5G era will be defined by the highly contextualized and personalized experience delivered on demand. It will have a significant and positive impact on individuals, industries, societies and economy transforming the way we live and work.
5G is driving global growth. As per 5G Economy study, in 2035, 5G will bring USD13.2 trillion dollars of global economic output and USD 2.1 trillion dollars in GDP growth. This impact is much greater than previous network generations. The development requirements of the new 5G network are also expanding beyond the traditional mobile networking players to industries such as the automotive industry. The study also revealed that the 5G value chain (including OEMs, operators, content creators, app developers, and consumers) could alone support up to 22.3 million jobs. Further, there are many emerging and new applications that will still be defined in the future.