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5G Perspective

Enabling orderly inclusive growth for the sector and thereby the economy

India is at the cusp of transformation with launch of 5G services. With 1.17 billion sub­scribers, India is the second-largest telecom market in the world. The telecom industry contributed 6 percent to India’s GDP in 2020-2021. It is also estimated that the telecom sector will witness growth at 9.4 percent CAGR up to 20252. The telecom sector is the third largest sector accounting for 6.43 percent of FDI inflows2. FDI in the telecom sector has increased by 150 percent, from USD 8.32 billion to USD 20.72 billion during 2014-20212. The sector supports 2.2 million jobs directly and 1.8 million jobs indirectly.

Globally, India is considered as the top country for providing Information Technologies Enabled Services (ITeS). Telecommunications networks are the backbone for ITeS industry. 5G services will further revolutionise the digital services with use cases in every sphere of life. All the sectors that harness digital technologies have experienced better productivity. Digital infrastructure will change service delivery in all key sectors, whether education, finance, or healthcare. Already, a number of use cases of 5G have come up around the world in sectors like logistics, agriculture, energy, manufacturing, transport, mining, entertainment, etc. Industry showcased several use cases at the IMC 2022. India is a leader in ecosystem of start-ups and unicorns. With the upcoming trends and new business models, the sector will witness exponential growth in the identification, development, and deployment of use cases.

To channelize the potential, the country needs to identify policy/regulatory impediments and address them. The impact of Government initiatives to bolster domestic telecom manufacturing under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ is quite visible. 5G technology stack has been locally developed by C-DoT and Reliance. With 4G & 5G tech stacks already under deployment, India is poised to become self-reliant in telecoms network deployments. Soon India will be exporting telecom network equipment to the world. Steps to enhance infrastructure are also underway. National Broadband Mission targets 5 million km of optical fiber rollout at pan-India level. The telecom service providers have undertaken fiberization of their towers with a target to connect more than 70 percent of them through fibre by 2024.

India will need skilled workforce for the telecom networks, AI/data analytics, Cloud computing and manufacturing. India has the largest youth population graduating in STEM4 streams. Several task force(s) have been instituted to make strategic plans with an aim to bridge the skill gap.

5G will enable a vibrant start-up ecosystem. For example, with its low latency and reliable connectivity, Telemedicine will now become a reality. I expect to see remote healthcare providing machines in every Primary Healthcare centre in next 1-2 years. Applications in Agriculture and Education are also being developed.

TRAI is enjoined to establish a conducive regulatory environment to ensure predictability, transparency, and level playing field. Regulations are being updated in order to ensure smooth adoption of new technologies while safeguarding consumer interests. The 2022 amendment in the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (RoW) Rules, 2016 will facilitate faster and easier deployment of Telecom Infrastructure.

TRAI has also collaborated with various states, central ministries, authorities and local bodies to conduct 5G PILOT projects (in ports, airports, metro, and smart cities) to identify deployment challenges and make appropriate recommendations. The issue of applicable revenue is being put for consultation to bring clarity for service providers and investors. Technological Convergence has necessitated alignment of policy and regulations. TRAI is undertaking a comprehensive consultation on policy and regulations in a converged world.

India has the opportunity to make the most out of the ongoing technological developments and 5G deployment. With cross-sectoral collaborations and open consultations, TRAI will put all efforts to enable orderly inclusive growth for the sector and thereby the economy.

  4. STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
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