5G Trials in India

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    Recently, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given permission to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to conduct trials for the use and application of 5G technology.

    About the Trials

    • Applicant TSPs include Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and MTNL.
      • These TSPs have tied up with original equipment manufacturers and technology providers like Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT.
      • Reliance Jio will conduct trials using its own indigenous technology. It has indigenously prepared a complete end-to-end 5G solution.
    • Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE have been left out from conducting the trials in India.
    • The trials will go for six months including a time period of two months for the procurement and setting up of the equipment.
    • Each TSP will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also in addition to urban settings to ensure 5G technology benefits rural populations.
    • TSPs are encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G technology.
      • 5G technology facilitates a much larger reach of the 5G towers and radio networks.
      • It has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M), Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) and IIT Hyderabad.
      • The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has also approved it after India advocated for it.
    • Objectives of conducting the 5G trials include 
      • Testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics in the Indian context.
      • Model tuning and the evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors.
      • Testing of indigenous technology.
      • Testing of applications such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented, virtual reality and drone-based agricultural monitoring.
      • Testing 5G phones and devices.
    • The trials will be on a non-commercial basis and the data generated during the trials will be stored in India.
    • In addition to the experimental spectrum being given in various bands, TSPs are also permitted to use their existing spectrum for conducting the trials.
    • Significance
      • It will stimulate the local Research and Development (R&D) ecosystem to develop innovative applications tailored to commercial needs.
      • It will also enable TSPs to validate 5G technologies and use cases such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0.
        • Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept that describes the idea of everyday physical objects being connected to the internet.
        • Industry 4.0 is the realization of the digital transformation of the field, delivering real-time decision making, enhanced productivity, flexibility and agility. It is characterized by increasing automation and the employment of smart factories informed by data to produce goods more efficiently and productively.

    About 5G Technology

    • It is the latest upgrade in the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks with reduced latency than 4G.
      • 5G technology offers an extremely low latency rate, the delay between the sending and receiving information.
      • From 200 milliseconds for 4G, 5G brings it down to 1 millisecond(1ms).
    • It works in three bands of spectrum with their respective pros and cons.
      • Low Band Spectrum
        • It shows great promise in terms of coverage and speed of internet and data exchange with a maximum speed limited to 100 Mbps (Megabits per second).
        • Telcos can use and install it for commercial cellphone users who may not have specific demands for very high speed internet.
        • It may not be optimal for specialised needs of the industry.
      • Mid-Band Spectrum
        • It offers higher speeds compared to the low band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals.
        • It may be used by industries and specialised factory units for building captive networks that can be moulded into the needs of that particular industry.
      • High-Band Spectrum
        • It offers the highest speed of all the three bands, but has extremely limited coverage and signal penetration strength.
        • Internet speeds have been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (gigabits per second).

    (Image Courtesy: TG)

    • Benefits
      • Infrastructure: Better communication means more efficient travel and distribution of goods and services across the globe.
      • Healthcare: Healthcare providers can create sensor networks to track patients and share information faster than ever before.
      • Public Safety: A vast network and rapid response times mean that public works can respond to incidents and emergencies in seconds rather than minutes, and municipalities can react fast and with reduced costs.
      • Autonomous Vehicles: 5G will allow vehicles to communicate between themselves and with infrastructure on the road, improving safety and alerting drivers to travel conditions and performance information.
    • Global Status of 5G
      • More than governments, global telecom companies have started building 5G networks and rolling it out to their customers on a trial basis.
      • Telcos in developed countries like the US and China have already been providing commercial 5G connections to their users.
      • South Korean company Samsung started researching on 5G technology in 2011 and has taken the lead in building the hardware for 5G networks for several companies.
    • India’s Progress in 5G
      • In 2018, India too 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.
      • Challenges
        • Lack of a clear road map of spectrum allocation and 5G frequency bands.
        • Lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with the Telcos.
      • Suggestions
        • 5G will require a fundamental change to the core architecture of the communication system and India should be ready with a robust, scalable, and intelligent infrastructure that is capable of handling massive traffic growth.
        • An additional investment in billions is required to seamlessly implement 5G networks.
        • India presents a unique telecom landscape where a multi-generational transition is evolving. Telecom operators need to support a wide spectrum of hybrid technologies. For example, technology that is compatible with 2G, transitioning to 4G and then 5G, supporting remote rural applications, and so on.

    Difference Between 4G and 5G

    (Image Courtesy: Twitter)

    Source: TH