The current crisis has led to one of the most significant disruptions in our history–a disruption that has redefined how we engage with each other and the rest of the world. As the low-touch economy becomes a reality, where the preference for digital alternatives is rising every day, the Internet, which was until now viewed as a source of connectivity, information, and entertainment, has become critical to our most essential pursuits. Currently, work, shopping, communications, governance, healthcare, education, and more are donning digital avatars.
At the same time, the shift to a digital world has led to new use cases around robotics, IoT, AI/ML, Industry 4.0, etc. Consequently, new-generation network technologies like 5G are seeing high demand, because post-COVID, simply connecting devices and people will not be enough–the focus will be on removing the hurdles to, and crafting superlative digital experiences. In this emerging new world, service providers are transforming into enablers of our new, connected future, striving to expand broadband bandwidth, boost network capacity, and invest in network infrastructure to make 5G a reality.
5G brings more than just speed to the new digital world
5G will bring about transformation in network performance across throughput, capacities, speed, and latency, opening up new opportunities for enterprises, allowing them to improve operational efficiencies, reduce costs, and offer an enriching employee experience. It will not just be an improvement over LTE and 4G. Existing network technologies are already enabling some aspects of Industry 4.0, such as wireless communication between devices. But 5G will enable technology for the Internet of the future and push the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to the next level, supporting edge computing architecture for predictive maintenance, distributed factories, video processing for real-time quality checks, more precise and amplified use of industrial robots, better supply chain management, etc.
Additionally, with consumer behavior increasingly skewed toward digital, 5G will become essential to capturing and analyzing the massive volumes of complex data feeds that will pass through the network as the number of connected devices swells rapidly. While existing networks concentrate on consolidating data in the cloud, 5G will allow for diversification of data processing at the edge of the network, permitting organizations to get actionable, real-time insights into shifting consumer behaviors, and in turn, better serve their customers. This capability will also make autonomous vehicles, smart cities and homes, precision farming, and other use cases possible, and ultimately help in improving quality of life.
I believe that this is where the true promise of 5G lies–in powering possibilities to further human welfare and stimulating inclusive and balanced economic growth in the country by bringing the benefits of the Internet to everyone. For instance, in the healthcare sector, 5G can help healthcare systems deliver affordable remote care to patients across geographies and train healthcare providers in remote locations. It can aid in scaling distance learning efforts, offering remote students access to high-quality education in both academic and workplace ecosystems. It could facilitate more effective implementation of benefit programs, enhance crisis response, improve public safety and infrastructure management, etc. The seamless connectivity that 5G offers can also give impetus to India’s vast gig economy, helping gig workers – most significantly, women – to have more remote employment opportunities.
5G is about evolving to the Internet of the future
Over the next decade, digital experiences will be created with advanced technologies–virtual and augmented reality, 16K streaming, AI, 5G, 10G, quantum computing, adaptive and predictive cybersecurity, intelligent IoT, and others not yet invented. These future generations of applications will drive complexity beyond the capabilities that the current Internet infrastructure can viably support.
Pushing the boundaries of innovation to the next level– far beyond what we experience today–is critical for the future, and we believe silicon, optics, and software are the technology levers that will deliver this outcome.
Security is front and center of the 5G era
However, even as 5G powers a borderless and distributed world, it simultaneously creates room for an expanded threat surface, because this next-generation network infrastructure will be mostly virtualized. Furthermore, SDNs will support communications between many more IOT and mobile devices, thus exposing every endpoint to risks. Therefore, automation and orchestration become imperative in safeguarding the network against malicious entities, while augmenting the user experience. A zero trust approach to security, which focuses on protecting data at all endpoints, not just preventing attacks, can help service providers ensure that the network remains safe.
Service providers are at the heart of the 5G revolution
While mass-scale availability of 5G may be delayed due to high spectrum costs and leveraged balance sheets of leading service providers, the pandemic has created an urgency for deployment. Telecom service providers are, therefore, gearing up for the 5G era, digitizing their operations and building automation tools that can manage the infrastructure while developing a robust organizational framework to run applications across networks, platforms, and systems.
As connectivity becomes crucial to everything we do, telecom service providers will be instrumental in promoting growth in the post-COVID world. Transforming into critical digital value drivers, they are now accelerating the optimization of existing operations through digitization, automation, and simplification, to enable the 5G future