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5G Perspective

India moving to become 5G superpower

Successful completion and enthusiasm of telecom operators, coupled with govern­ment policy to allow spectrum to enterprises, has paved the way for India to become a global super power, as domestic 5G stake has already been demonstrated. Three private operators have announced their plans to start 5G by August, 2022 itself, and roll out pan-India by the year-end. The public telecom operator has been asked to implement 5G soonest on availability of the domestic 5G.

Airtel 5G is starting in August, 2022 itself, and shall be extending to a pan-India rollout very soon. By March, 2024, they will be able to cover every town and key rural area as well with 5G. In fact, detailed network rollout plans for 5000 towns in India are completely in place. Jio and Vodafone Idea plans are also in place.

So, for the first time, India is catching up with the world in 5G. Support of the government is unparalleled. Even the PM announced in his Independence Day speech that 5G mobile telephony, which holds the promise of offering 10 times faster speeds and lag-free connectivity, will soon start in India.

For the first time, the government is talking of design-led manufacturing, for which the minister has earmarked a minimum of ₹500 crore per year. Domestic start-ups have taken lead in showcasing full 5G domestic stake. The government also announced a design-led PLI scheme. The government had also set up 5G test bed and offered it to industries/start-ups.

Entire India is looking forward to 5G – customers for high speed/immersive experience, economy for its projected growth, the government for success of new technology, R&D institutes for successful new products, educational institu­tions for skilling and education, and enterprises for higher productivity.

By reducing the reserve price, the government has avoided the winning curse, as spectrum has been sold on reserve price. By reforms, the government has enabled operators to smooth out their operations.

The government has made all of us demand less. But a child has to cry, so something must be said.

Much now depends on use cases, which are under development. The entire way of living is going to change from education, health, agriculture, banking, and more.

Some are worried on effect of radiation on health. There is no evi­dence so far. The evidence is diffi­cult to come as deployment is of recent times. There is a need for technical experts to devote some time toward this by under­taking proper study and evaluation, as the international norms on radiation are quite old.

Much infrastructure is needed in the form of small cells, towers, and optical fiber. The operators and the industry are gearing up for the same. Time has come for a National Fiber Authority. Much coordination is needed with the state and local authorities, who see this as a money-spinning opportunity. Skilled manpower shortage should be expected.

5G is a big infra gamble. Operators, having invested close to ₹5 lakh crore for 4G, are expected to put in another ₹3 lakh crore – a big boost to economy.
A time has come when citizens should ask for the internet and mobile as a right to connectivity. They must enforce this as a demand, along with demand for road, electricity, health, water, etc.

Domestic procurement as of now is restricted to public operators only. There is a need for incentive scheme for private operators for domestic procurements.

There is also a need for a telecom funding authority – maybe Telecom Finance Corporation – for operators and manufacturers.

Challenge to operators for customers willingness to pay requisite charges and the payback difficult as enterprise revenues are unsure.

With high technology and interconnection to IoT and M2M, come the cyber risks. Customers are looking at technical experts to address the issue.

Welcome to India for 5G!

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