Digital India Initiatives

5G revolution and challenges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: particulars of 5G

Mains level: scientific achievements and issues with it

5G revolution Context

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that 5G revolution deployment in India will commence sooner than expected.

What is 5G technology?

  • 5G or fifth generation revolution  is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.
  • 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
  • It’s a unified platform which is much more capable than previous mobile services with more capacity, lower latency, faster data delivery rate and better utilisation of spectrum.

How it evolved from 1G to 5G?

  • 1G: Launched in the 1980s. Analog radio signals and supported only voice calls.
  • 2G: Launched in the 1990s. Uses digital radio signals and supported both voice and data transmission with a Bandwidth (BW) of 64 Kbps.
  • 3G: Launched in the 2000s. With a speed of 1 Mbps to 2 Mbps it has the ability to transmit telephone signal including digitized voice, video calls and conferencing.
  • 4G: With a peak speed of 100 Mbps-1 Gbps it also enables 3D virtual reality.
  • 5G: with a speed of more than 1Gbps, it is capable of connecting entire world without limits.

5G revolutionSalient features

  • Capability: 5G will provide much faster mobile broadband service as compared to the previous versions and will provide support to previous services like mission critical communication and the massive Internet Of Things (IoT).
  • Upgraded LTE: 5G is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.
  • Speed: With peak delivering rate of up to 20 Gbps and an average of 100Mbps, it will be much faster as compared to its predecessors. The speed increment is partly achieved partly by using higher-frequency radio waves than previous networks.
  • Capacity: There will be up to 100 x increase in traffic capacity and network efficiency.
  • Spectrum usage: Will provide better usage for every bit of spectrum, from low bands below 1 GHz to high bands.
  • Latency: It’s expected to have lower latency with better instantaneous, real-time access of the data. The 5G, like 4G LTE, also uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) but the new 5G NR (New Radio) air interface will enhance OFDM and provide better flexibility in data delivery.

5G revolutionApplications of 5G technology

  • High-Speed mobile network: 5G will revolutionize the mobile experience with supercharged wireless network. Compared to conventional mobile transmission technologies, voice and high-speed data can be simultaneously transferred efficiently in 5G.
  • Entertainment and multimedia: 5G can provide 120 frames per second, high resolution and higher dynamic range video streaming without interruption. Audiovisual experience will be rewritten after the implementation of the latest technologies powered by 5G wireless. Augmented Reality and virtual Reality services will be better experienced over 5G.
  • Internet of Things: IoT applications collects huge amount of data from millions of devices and sensors and thus requires an efficient network for data collection, processing, transmission, control and real-time analytics which 5G network is a better candidate.

Interesting facts about 5G

According to researchers, about 1.5 billion people will have access to 5G by 2024.

It may not seem like it at present, however, 5G will cover about 40% of the world.

The security risks introduced BY 5G

  • Increased attack surface: With millions and even billions more connected devices, 5G makes it possible for larger and more dangerous attacks. Current and future vulnerabilities of the existing internet infrastructure are only exacerbated. The risk of more sophisticated botnets, privacy violations, and faster data extraction can escalate with 5G.
  • More IoT, more problems: IoT devices are inherently insecure; security is often not built-in by design. Each insecure IoT device on an organization’s networks represents another potential hole that an attacker can expose.
  • Decreased network visibility: With 5G, our networks will only expand and become more usable by mobile users and devices. This means much more network traffic to manage. But without a robust wide area network (WAN) security solution like Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) in place, companies may not be able to gain the network traffic visibility required to identify abnormalities or attacks.
  • Increased supply chain and software vulnerabilities: Currently and for the foreseeable future, 5G supply chains are limited. Vulnerabilities exist — particularly as devices are rushed to market — increasing the potential for faulty and insecure components. Compared to traditional mobile networks, 5G is also more reliant on software, which elevates the risk of exploitation of the network infrastructure.

Challenges in rolling out 5G

  • Enabling critical infrastructures: 5G will require a fundamental change to the core architecture of the communication system. The major flaw of data transfer using 5G is that it can’t carry data over longer distances. Hence, even 5G technology needs to be augmented to enable infrastructure.
  • Financial liability on consumers: For transition from 4G to 5G technology, one has to upgrade to the latest cellular technology, thereby creating financial liability on consumers.
  • Capital Inadequacy: Lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with the suitable telecom companies (like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea) is delaying the 5G spectrum allocation.

Way forward

  • India should not miss the opportunity and should proactively work to deploy 5G technology. We should focus on strengthening our cyber infrastructure.
  • 5G start-ups that enable this design and manufacturing capabilities should be promoted. This will spur leaps in the coverage, capacity and density of wireless networks.


  • The recent recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to the government to develop a national road map for India to implement 5G in the best possible manner should include cyber security concerns.

Mains question

Q. 5G is already transforming and enhancing connectivity. In this context Discuss India’s preparedness and cybersecurity challenges that needs to be taken care of for earlier roll out of 5G.

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