Like 2018, this year too, is expected to be a watershed year for the Indian telecom sector. While the bygone year was truly eventful in terms of notable milestones, such as the roll-out of the much awaited National Digital Communications Policy 2018, talks revolving 5G and emerging technologies, GST and the like, the current year will see far more consolidated steps being taken in these directions. Further, other meaningful innovation will make their towering presence felt, with digital communications as its very core.
Riding strongly on the back of the Government’s ambitious Digital India program, Smart City and other similar initiatives, telcos have been taking several steps in deploying a robust infrastructural blueprint, ready to deliver connectivity and digital services to the last mile. Till date, telcos had already invested INR 10.4 lakh crore in establishing a formidable infrastructure. The last few years have seen significant 4G infrastructure being installed with 75 percent of overall base stations being 3/4G we are looking at 5G’s commercial roll-out, anticipated by next year, this pipeline of investment is only expected to burgeon. The industry recently witnessed the deployment of over 5 lakh mobile towers with over 20 lakh BTSs.
Moreover, efforts undertaken by the Government to facilitate roll-out 5G network services commercially by late 2019 or early 2020, is truly laudable by all measures. 5G will enable the nation to exploit the digitization efforts done in the past few years which will usher in a new wave of economic growth and sustainable development across the country. Technologies such as autonomous driven vehicles, smart transportation and logistics, smart farming, drone patrolling for road safety, holograms and remote robotic healthcare etc, are slated to be commonplace.
Globally, the ICT industry is strongly collaborating to further the cause of 5G and provide the much-needed fillip to other innovations that are set to drive the move- IoT, M2M, AI, AR, industry 4.0, and AI, amongst other technologies.
Companies such as Ericsson and Nokia are ready to start exporting 5G ready equipment from India – Made in India, for the World. Ericsson, the telecom major had established India’s first Centre of Excellence (CoE) and Innovation Lab for 5G at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. Similarly, Intel inaugurated the Intel India Design Centre, its new R&D facility, for 5G and AI in Bengaluru. The center plans to employ 3,500 researchers and staff, with an estimated investment of INR 1200 Crores, and Huawei at its R&D centre in Bangalore is working on developing and refining 5G technologies.
The DoT had also joined hands with IIT Chennai to set up a one of a kind test bed for 5G. The academy will conduct R&D around 5G based tech such as IoT, AR and M2M. The telecom industry is committed to make India a world leader in next-gen technologies and the establishment of the 5G India Forum is an assertive step towards this goal. This Forum has been expansively collaborating with experts from around the globe and discussing challenges and opportunities to make India 5G ready. COAI under its Indian Friends of 3GPP (IF3) recently hosted meetings at Jaipur and Kochi which worked on the latest standards for 5G technologies enabling a large number of Indian delegates to participate. We will be hosting more such meeting in India.
With all these and many more such trends making their presence felt, India’s abilities in being able to exploit it digital efforts to deliver better services to its citizens are well on track. Technological advancements such as IoT, M2M and the like will open up new avenues for revenue and influx of appropriate investments, such as those outlined in the NDCP 2018, will further establish India and its telecom sector as a major catalyst for enabling cross-sectoral growth of the digital economy in the country.