What is 5G technology? How will it revolutionise communication sector?

Mentors Comment:
The question is in the backdrop of recent debates over the Huawei’s role in the 5G network rollout in India continues. This comes at a time when the government has made its intentions clear to start with the 5G trials soon.
Explain in detail the 5G technology, its benefits and applications and what are the challenges currently India is facing in implementing it.
Explain in brief what you understand by 5G technology.
In the main body, explain the following points –
5G – It is the next generation cellular technology that will provide faster and more reliable communication with ultra-low latency.
Its benefits – It will revolutionize the mobile experience; consumers will be able to download data heavy content such as 8K movies and games with better graphics in just a few seconds. But once 5G becomes commercial, users will be required to change their current devices in favor of 5G-enabled ones.
However, it is likely that the primary use of the technology will go beyond delivery of services on personal mobiles devices.
Discuss how will it revolutionize communication sector.
Discuss the various challenges being faced in incorporating the technology in India.
Conclude by reasserting the significance of such a technology.

Answer:
Union Communications Minister recently announced that the government will be holding auction for spectrum, which includes airwaves that will be used to offer 5G or fifth-generation services, in the current calendar year. While some countries such as South Korea and the U.S. have begun rolling out commercial 5G services, India is yet to begin trial for these even as the government is targeting 2020 as the launch year for 5G in the country.

5G:
5G is the fifth generation mobile network.
It is the next generation cellular technology that will provide faster and more reliable communication with ultra-low latency.
Latency is the amount of time data takes to travel between its source and destination.
A government panel report points out that with 5G, the peak network data speeds are expected to be in the range of 2-20 Gigabit per second (Gbps).
This is in contrast to 4G link speeds in averaging 6-7 Megabit per second (Mbps) in India as compared to 25 Mbps in advanced countries.
The standards for the usage of 5G are defined and driven by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

Benefits of 5G for communication sector:
5G is expected to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion in India by 2035, according to a report by a government-appointed panel.
According to a separate report by telecom gear maker Ericsson, 5G-enabled digitalization revenue potential in India will be above $27 billion by 2026.
Additionally, global telecom industry GSMA has forecast that India will have about 70 million 5G connections by 2025.
5G is expected to form the backbone of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine communications.
It would be supporting a much larger range of applications and services, including driverless vehicles, tele-surgery and real time data analytics.
One of the primary applications of 5G will be implementation of sensor-embedded network that will allow real time relay of information across fields such as manufacturing, consumer durables and agriculture.
5G can also help make transport infrastructure more efficient by making it smart.
5G will enable vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, making driverless cars, among other things, a reality.
The ultra low latency offered by 5G makes the technology desirable for such use cases. Latency is the amount of time data takes to travel between its source and destination.

Challenges for the industry:
Telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has also expressed concerns about the financial health of the sector amid intense competition and recent phase of consolidation. Currently, the industry’s cumulative debt is pegged at around ₹7 lakh crore.
The COAI has also pointed out that 5G is overpriced by at least 30% to 40% compared to international standards and auction in other markets such as South Korea and the U.S.
In previous auctions, the government saw no takers for the 700 MHz spectrum, which is used to offer high speed 4G services and was put on sale for the first time, mainly due to the high reserve price.
Frequency allocation: Indian operators have far less spectrum in comparison to international operators. The high investment cost which makes telecom companies unsure about Return on Investment.
Network investment: In India, the telecom sector is facing capital augmentation issues which need to be resolved. Non-availability of funds for investment: Many of the Indian operators are also weighed down by debt.
Regulatory restrictions: Faster rounds of new technology introduction when prior technology investments have not been recouped add further complexity.
Technical Challenges: Designing IT architecture that can be deployed globally, while still allowing for localized technology to cater for different regions is a challenge.

Way Forward:
Need to align Digital India with 5G technology.
Incentivize design and manufacture of 5G technologies, products and solutions in India.
Allocate funds and incentivise local technology and telecom firms to develop their internal capacities which would in turn help 5G technology succeed in the country
Promote 5G start-ups that enable this design and manufacturing capabilities.
Promote generation of IPR backing the above designs.
Manufacture of 5G chipsets, this may require massive investments.
Appropriate test-beds and technology platforms to enable and help Indian technical ecosystem to have an edge in 5G.
Accelerated deployment of next generation ubiquitous ultra-high broadband infrastructure with 100% coverage of 10 Gbps across urban India and 1 Gbps across Rural India.
Coverage, reliability, and scalability must be optimized and seamless mobile networks will require a unified management policy to ensure consistent standards

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2023 there will be a staggering 9.1 billion mobile subscriptions. 5G will act as the catalyst for Digital India—a watershed moment in digital transformation. India is at the cusp of a next generation of wireless technology 5G. It provides an opportunity for industry to reach out to global markets, and consumers to gain with the economies of scale. It can help in better service delivery, faster access to services and deeper penetration of digital services.

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