5G Services Rollout in India

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    Context

    • The Prime Minister of India has recently launched 5G services in India on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony of India Mobile Congress 2022.

    About

    • Evolution: 5G is the 5th generation mobile network or wireless technology. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.
    • Network:  5G enables a new kind of network designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
    • Objectives: 5G will 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. 
      • Higher performance and improved efficiency to empower new user experiences and connect new industries.

    Benefits of the 5G launch in India

    • Affordability: Telecom industry players like Reliance Industries Limited, Bharti Enterprises and Aditya Birla Group committed to a speedy roll-out of “affordable” 5G services in India.
    • Superior experience: Indian mobile phone users will experience ultra-high Internet speeds via 5G wireless technology and bring a new digital era in the country.
    • Socio-economic transformation: 5G technology will bring transformation in crucial areas including agriculture, health, education, Transport, logistics, smart cities, Industry 4.0 and financial inclusion etc.
    • Global position: 5G technology will bolster tech revolution domestically and propel India’s position as an economic and tech powerhouse globally.
    • Newer opportunities: will provide new opportunities for start-ups to come up with innovative solutions to solve existing challenges, create jobs and contribute to India’s economic resilience. 
    • For example, demonstrations of 5G solutions, chipsets, networking equipment etc. development by Indian telecom start-ups, MSMEs and large manufacturers
    • Self-reliance: India was dependent on other countries for 2G, 3G and 4G technologies. However, India has set a global standard in telecom technology for the first time with 5G. 
    • Tech Developer, not consumer: Henceforth, India will play an active role in the development and implementation of 5G related technology rather than being a mere consumer of technology.
    • More Users: As per the recent Ericsson report, 5G technology might contribute to 39 % of mobile subscriptions in India by 2027 i.e. about 500 million estimated subscriptions.
    • Foundation/Link Technology: 5G technology will serve as a link to several science & technology driven application useful in daily lives such as-
    • Connected Ambulance (Emergency healthcare)
    • Community Clinic (Mass healthcare / treatment)
    • Remote Ultrasound Robot Demo (remote healthcare)
    • Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) for Rural Broadband Connectivity.
    • Indigenously developed 5G core for public networks
    • High Security Routers
    • AI based Cyber Threat Detection Platform
    • Smart-Agri Programme using IoTs, HD Cameras and Drones

    Issues with 5G Implementation: 

    • Technological Adoption: Widespread rollout of 5G across India (especially rural areas) will need strong technological backup and capital adequacy on behalf of Indian telecommunication companies.
    • Low Fiberization Footprint: For an efficient 5G coverage, doubling of  Fiber connectivity will be needed for pan-India networks as presently FOC connects only 30% of India’s telecom towers.
    • Hardware challenge: Since India has banned some leading foreign telecom original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), deployment of 5G may face hurdles w.r.t. Indian hardware.
    • Spectrum pricing: 5G spectrum pricing in India is far costlier than the global average, raising valid concerns over affordability of services by customers eventually.

    Role of Digital India Mission in 5G launch

    • Affordable Devices: With Atma Nirbhar Bharat the cost of devices were reduced to a large extent. India is now at second position in the world for manufacturing of mobile and is also a large exporter of mobiles. 
    • For example, from 2 mobile manufacturing units in 2014, India presently has 200 manufacturing units promoting competition and cost-effectiveness.
    • Digital Connectivity:
    • Broadband Users: From 6 cr in 2014, India now has 80 crore Broadband users. 
    • Optical Fibre Cable(OFC): Now, more than 1,70,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) are connected with OFC from approx 100 GPs earlier in 2014. 
    • Internet users in the rural areas of the country are growing at a faster rate than the urban area thereby bridging the digital divide.
    • Cost of Data: The cost of data has reduced from Rs. 300 per GB in 2014 to Rs. 10 per GB in 2022. Average Data used per person is 14 GB per month, and reduction in cost of data has brought considerable savings per month for citizens.
    •  Idea of  Digital First: There were apprehensions about  adoption of the digital technology by the rural poor, however rural India is fast adopting the digital technologies and internet in their daily lives.

    Way Forward

    • 5G technology will bring harmony with the Prime Minister’s vision to promote ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’, Jai Anusandhan and ‘ Sabka Saath,  Sabka Vishwas’.
    • It will pave the way for realization of a vision of bringing that technology to the common people which works for the people, works by connecting with the people.
    • 5G should be integrated in the policy domains like Digital India mission to ensure transformational potential on the lives of citizens way beyond simple provision of higher internet speeds. E.g. Telemedicine during COVID-19.
    • Promotion of digitalisation, indigenous technology (Make in India), industrial revolution 4.0 will certainly pave the way for Techade (technology decade) of India.

    Source: IE