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5G Technology and its Challenges in India

The world is approaching the fourth industrial revolution, which is in a way the era of the digital revolution. Technological breakthroughs like Artificial intelligence, Robotics, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology & quantum computing has made it even more challenging & significant.

New unprecedented applications like AI, Autonomous vehicles & Drone-based delivery systems are emerging very fast. All these new technologies & applications need the co-existence of machines & human-centric services and this is driving us towards wireless technology. Rapidly it is moving towards a fully mobile & connected society & this demands high connectivity, a big volume of data transfer &varity of new usage applications.

We have witnessed evolving scenarios in the field of mobile communications. Traditional mobiles were replaced by mobile broadband (MBB), which was further upgraded to 4G, which is now commercialized in a big way.

But looking at the future requirements, mentioned above, there is a need for further up-gradation. Next-generation mobile communication (5G), hence is the need of the hour. This is expected to be commercialized in 2020 & has become the focus of global research & development. 

The new era will require services on one hand & also, the new application on the other. It is mentioned in the below table. 4G network has limitations to fulfill these requirements & hence 5G is required 

Requirements from the communicationApplications
high speed High reliability Rapid response Energy efficiency& cost efficiency Ultra low latency user experience  Instant cloud services Enhanced vehicle to Everything Internet of things Tactile internet Robots & drone communications

Difference between  5G and other Generation

Generation2nd Gen3rd Gen3rd Gen +HSPA4th Gen4th Gen with  LTE-A5G
Max speed Mbps/ Gbps0.37.242150300Mbps-1Gbps1-10Gbps
Average speed in Mbps0.11.551015-5050 and up

Advantages  of  5G

  • Faster Data Speed – As stated in the above data.
  • Ultra-low latency – Latency is the time taken to transfer data between devices.  With 5G you can  reduce this time about 1 millisecond compared to  the 4G rate of 50 milliseconds
  • A More Connected World – Since the bandwidth & capacity of 5G is big, it can accommodate technologies like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality services. This is going to be a paradigm shift that will change our lives.

As per the renowned Committee on Digital Economic Policy, 5G technologies will be advantageous in achieving economic parameters like increasing GDP, employment generation, and digitization.

Additionally, 5G technologies will have a significant positive impact in the areas like,

  • In agriculture: With 5G complete value chain can be improved. It can be helpful in the process like soil condition, precision farming, and irrigation while on the logistic side with transportation, cold storage management, crop monitoring, and livestock management.
  • In manufacturing: 5G can be used in robotics for precision manufacturing, particularly for some functions which are not safe for humans to perform or in the functions where accuracy is of prime importance.
  • In the energy sector: With 5G storage technologies & its advantage on low latency communications, we can effectively use “smart grids” and “smart metering”.
  • In health-care: With  5G Technology, robotics surgery can be done with precision. It can be used for telemedicine which we have experienced in lockdown in its initial & primary stages.  Vital statistics regarding various diseases & epidemics can be available through wireless communication & can be monitored in a better way

5G Technology has so many advantages, but it poses the following challenges for the implementation.

  • Huge Investment Required: In India investment is needed to a tune of  Rs 5 L Cr.
  • Expensive spectrum: Because of some of the regulations by the central government, spectrum prices in India are very high & hence difficult competing globally.
  • Lack of uniform policy framework: There is no uniform telecom policy & it changes with different states, hence time taken for approvals also differs. This creates problems for service providers laying Optical Fiber Cables (OFC) and in the installation of towers. Local rules and regulations are becoming a hindrance in building up rapid and cost-effective small cells in city centers where 5G is required the most.
  • Debt scenario in the industry: As we know Indian telecommunications service providers (TSPs) are already under pressure for the huge debt which is approximately at Rs.4.2L Cr. collectively.
  • Low optical fiber penetration: For 5G, a network that connects cell sites to central exchange is required with fiber optic cables. At present only 20% of sites are connected through fiber. So it is challenging to reach the expected level.
  • High Import of Equipments: There are no local manufacturing units to make equipments required for 5G technologies & we have to rely on imports which 90%. Since imports are high, it becomes very costly & difficult to compete.
  • Security: Presently India’s global cybersecurity ratingis very low. As per the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), India stands at 23rd position. India must make a strong strategy for cybersecurity.
  • Possibility of increased digital divide: In the initial deployment of 5G networks, there could be a lag between urban & rural areas because it is urgent need of the urban areas & as yet there is no commercial viability for the rural areas.
  • Human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: Operational frequencies required to operate 5G technology are very high & may be a risk to human health. This risk has to be mitigated.

A Way Forward

  • It is important to form a decision on the spectrum policy.
  • The government should create a 5G Program Office in the telecom Department & committee to review the progress.
  • Resources like ducting & power junction boxes are necessary for 5G infrastructure. To make it possible, supporting infrastructure like highways, roads, have to be built and utilities like gas, electricity & water have to be provided.
  • Presently, most of the equipment required for implementing 5G technologies are imported. It is necessary to make the security audit plan or simplify it, as a prerequisite for imports
  • Policy-makers have to make arrangements for the 5G pilot & testbeds before implementing it on large scale.
  • It is important to support 5G investment & make the licensing policies

3 thoughts on “5G Technology and its Challenges in India

  1. 5G .. is a new technology and there are both sides to any technology development
    A very balanced view and takes into account the average reader.

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