From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : 5G technology
Mains level : Issues with 5g rollout
Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Pune will be the first places to get 5G services next year in 2022, informed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
What is 5G technology?
- 5G or fifth generation is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.
- 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.
5G mainly works in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high-frequency spectrum — all of which have their own uses as well as limitations.
(1) Low band spectrum
- It has a great promise in terms of coverage and speed of internet and data exchange but the maximum speed is limited to 100 Mbps (Megabits per second).
- So 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 specialized needs of the industry.
(2) Mid-band spectrum
- It offers higher speeds compared to the low band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals.
- This band may be used by industries and specialized factory units for building captive networks that can be moulded into the needs of that particular industry.
(3) High-band spectrum
- It 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.
Stipulated bands for roll-out
- 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 telecoms can use and install it for commercial cellphone users who may not have specific demands for very high speed Internet.
- However 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.
Where does India stand in the 5G technology race?
- Like other global players, India had, 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 private telecom players have been urging the DoT to lay out a clear road map of spectrum allocation and 5G frequency bands.
Issues in roll-out
- Monopoly: One big hurdle, however, is the lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with some players due to an existing monopoly.
- AGR dues: There is an ongoing dispute between the telecoms and the government mainly over the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue.
- Device upgrade: As far as commercial smartphones are concerned, some newer devices in the market claim to be 5G-ready but are much costlier.
Why is there early roll-out in big cities?
- Services penetration: One of the reasons why the bigger cities were chosen for these trials is their telecom services penetration, making it easier to convince more people to upgrade from 4G.
- Cost management: Since the costs for 5G services are initially going to be on the higher side, it would be wise to test the service in areas where more consumers would find them affordable.
- Testing ground: A third reason is that cities provide all kinds of locations, such as walled complexes and open spaces, that are suitable for testing of various 5G bands.
What is the global progress on 5G?
More than governments, global telecom companies have started building 5G networks and rolling it out to their customers on a trial basis.
- South Korea: Samsung, which had started researching on 5G technology way back in 2011, has taken the lead when it comes to building the hardware for 5G networks for several companies.
- USA: 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.
- China: In other countries such as China, some of the telecoms such as China Unicom had started 5G trials as early as 2018, and have since rolled out the commercial services for users.
What changes for consumers with 5G?
- One of the major changes will be in terms of rich experiences on their phones and other connected devices.
- For instance, users will be able to stream videos with multiple camera angles during sports matches or even play immersive video games using VR headsets or other accessories.
- This next-generation telecom network will also enable a mesh of connected Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices and services with zero-fail rate, as in the case of connected cars.
- 5G could also draw high-speed mobile broadband connectivity to replace existing broadband services, especially in locations where these services are constrained, provided there isn’t a huge price differential.
Try this question from CSP 2019:
With reference to communication technologies, what is/are the difference/differences between LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and VoLTE (Voice over Long-Term Evolution)?
- LTE ‘is commonly marketed as 3G and VoLTE is commonly marketed as advanced 3G.
- LTE is data-only technology and VoLTE is voice-only technology.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Post your answers here.