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  • Writer's pictureSahastha

5g, the next big thing in India

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

5G, the 5th Generation of wireless technology, is the next big thing in mobile technology. Just like its predecessors, 5G promises faster data speeds, lower latency and higher bandwidth, which will make your current mobile networks feel sluggish and outdated. 2021 is supposed to be a big year for 5G, especially in India. 5g has been a hot topic of discussion this year, with telecom giants Jio and Airtel announcing the plans for 5G in India. 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 user experience to more users.

How is 5g different?

5G or fifth generation is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks. 5G mainly works in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum, all of which have their own uses as well as limitations. While the low band spectrum has shown great promise in terms of coverage and speed of internet and data exchange, the maximum speed is limited to 100 Mbps (Megabits per second). This means that while telcos can use and install it for commercial cell phone users who may not have specific demands for very high speed internet, the low band spectrum may not be optimal for specialised needs of the industry.

The mid-band spectrum, on the other hand, offers higher speeds compared to the low band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals. Telcos and companies, which have taken the lead on 5G, have indicated that this band may be used by industries and specialised factory units for building captive networks that can be molded into the needs of that particular industry.

The high-band spectrum offers the highest speed of all the three bands, but has extremely limited coverage and signal penetration strength. Internet speeds in the high-band spectrum of 5G has been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (giga bits per second), while, in most cases, the maximum internet data speed in 4G has been recorded at 1 Gbps.

Who is bringing 5g to India?

India in 2018, planned to start 5G services as soon as possible, with an aim to capitalise on the better network speeds and strength that the technology promised. India’s telecom giants, Jio, Airtel and Vi (Vodafone-Idea) are all working to make 5G a reality in the country. Jio’s chairman, Mukesh Ambani, announced the company’s plans of building a 5G network made of indigenous hardware and technology components. Airtel has recently successfully trialled a 5G network in Hyderabad. Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea have spent the last year upgrading their network technology in preparation for 5G and they say that their networks are almost 5G ready.

When is 5g coming to India?

In countries like the US, companies such as AT&T, T-mobile, and Verizon have taken the lead when it comes to rolling out commercial 5G for their users. While some such as AT&T had started testing and deploying the technology as early as 2018, other companies such as Verizon have followed suit, expanding their 5G ultra-wide broadband services to as many as 60 cities by the end of 2020. In other countries such as China, some of the telcos such as China Unicom had started 5G trials as early as 2018, and have since rolled out the commercial services for users.

South Korean company Samsung, had started researching on 5G technology way back in 2011.

In December 2020, Jio announced plans to launch their 5G network in the second half of 2021, but that does not seem feasible at present. In a recent parliamentary panel, it was highlighted that there would be a delay in the launch of 5G technology. The government expects 5G services to roll out by early 2022 after a spectrum auction that is planned to be held. All the major telecom giants will participate in this spectrum auction, which will allow companies to tune their infrastructure to those frequencies and finally roll out their networks.

The 5G is expected to globally redefine a range of industries such as transport, healthcare and logistics. Unlike 3G and 4G, which largely offered improvements in data transfer speeds on smartphones, 5G will allow a universe of connected devices to interact with each other. Currently, India is home to mere 322mn wireless broadband subscribers, which is estimated to jump to a whopping 1bn by 2025. 4G technology is rapidly gaining market share as operators are gradually reducing their 2G and 3G footprint. Launch of commercial 5G is anticipated by 2022, especially in urban areas, to cater to burgeoning data demand.

Conclusion

There are good reasons why India should be at the forefront of the digital revolution. Future growth is going to come from applications and services based on technologies such as the Internet of Things, automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). India wants to create 100 smart cities that will have intelligent power and urban utility systems. All these applications will provide a good opportunity for the services industry as more areas demand cloud computing, Big Data, AI and machine learning applications. A timely roll out of 5G will allow Indian entrepreneurs a chance to experiment alongside their global competitors.

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