5G technology is in news for a long time. Hence, it is important to understand the technicalities, advantages, and disadvantages of the technologies. Read here to know about 5G.
The fifth-generation mobile network is popularly known as 5G.
5G is the next level of mobile network that will shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industrial 4.0.
Besides 5G also improve the quality of service delivery and aid in innovation by facilitating smarter and developing societies.
What is 5G?
The 5G network will operate in the millimetre-wave spectrum (30-300 GHz) which can send large amounts of data at very high speeds as the frequency is very high, and it experiences little interference from surrounding signals.
5G is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.
In the high-band spectrum of 5G, internet speeds have been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (gigabits per second).
5G mainly works in 3 bands:
- Low band spectrum: It has good coverage and speed of internet and data exchange however the maximum speed is limited to 100 Mbps (Megabits per second).
- Mid-band spectrum: It offers higher speeds compared to the low band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals.
- High-band spectrum: It has the highest speed of all the three bands, but has extremely limited coverage and signal penetration strength.
What is the difference between 5G and 4G?
Uses lower reading frequencies of 700 MHz to 2500 MHz.
Uses much higher radio frequencies of 28 GHz.
Low speed with less data transfer.
Faster speeds with more data transfer.
Latency: the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction.
Higher latency as compared to 5G that is about 20-30 milliseconds.
Has lower latency which is predicted to be below 10 milliseconds, and in best cases around 1 millisecond.
Supports a lesser number of devices (about 4,000 devices per square kilometre).
Uses a millimetre-wave spectrum which enables more devices to be used within the same geographic area supporting around one million per square kilometre.
Has led to more congestion and lesser coverage.
It uses a new digital technology that improves coverage, speed, and capacity.
What is the Global scenario?
Commercial 5G networks began to be deployed in 2020 worldwide and are expected to reach 12% of world mobile connections (1.1 billion) and generate revenues up to the U.S.$1.3 trillion by 2025 for operators.
5G had been deployed in 50 cities in the United States.
South Korea rolled out 5G to 85 cities.
Japan and China have started 5G mobile services on a trial basis.
Is India ready for the 5G leap?
DoT confirmed that 13 cities in India would get 5G services in 2022. These include Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Gurugram, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Jamnagar, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow and Gandhinagar.
Advantages of 5G for India
The new generation mobile network has the transformative potential to provide a wide range of benefits to the Indian economy, which when combined with artificial intelligence provides a new face to a connected and autonomous system.
5G networks could improve the accessibility of services such as mobile banking and healthcare, and enable exponential growth in opportunities for unemployed or underemployed people to engage in fulfilling and productive work.
The Indian policy-makers can educate and empower citizens and businesses, and transform existing cities into smart and innovative cities.
Socio-economic Benefits: This may allow citizens and communities to get socio-economic benefits and comforts delivered by a well-advanced, more data-intensive, digital economy.
- Broadly speaking, the uses of 5G in India may encompass enhanced outdoor and indoor broadband, the Internet of things (IoT), smart cities and smart agriculture, energy monitoring, remote monitoring, smart grids, telehealth, industrial automation, remote patient monitoring, and industrial automation to name some of the areas.
- 5G technology can be used for agriculture and smart farming in the future. Using smart RFID sensors and GPS technology, farmers can track the location of livestock and manage them easily. Smart sensors can be used for irrigation control, access control, and energy management.
- It will support medical practitioners to perform advanced medical procedures with a reliable wireless network connected to another side of the globe. Doctors can connect with patients from anywhere anytime and advise them when necessary. Scientists are working on smart medical devices which can perform remote surgery. Smart medical devices like wearables will continuously monitor a patient’s condition and activate alerts during an emergency.
Challenges for rolling out 5G
- Critical infrastructures: 5G will require a fundamental change to the core architecture of the communication system. Since the major flaw of data transfer using 5G is that it can’t carry data over longer distances, the 5G technology needs to be augmented to existing infrastructure.
- Financial liability: For the 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 adequate capital with suitable telecom companies (like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea) is delaying the 5G spectrum allocation.
- Late adoption: Countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia are late in adopting 5G technology, hence, may get decreased revenue from the service.
- Government subsidies: The likelihood of government subsidies is low, because of the history of high reserve prices set by the governments for spectrum auctions amid ongoing fiscal deficits.
- Digital divide: 5G will not bridge the digital divide between rural and urban in the short term, rather this may increase it.
- Niche service: 5G will be a niche service unlike 3G and 4G which were distributive services. It will get intensified over a comparatively longer period and concentrated to particular sectors.
- Previous technology: Consumers are still struggling with basic network issues like call drops and interrupted data services. 4G networks still cause frequent disruptions in internet services.
- Interference: There are concerns that the rollout of 5G mobile service could potentially interfere with aircraft navigation systems. Air India cancelled eight flights on US routes in January 2022.
Hence it is important to elevate the quality of service of existing 4G networks before embarking on a new 5G platform.
The immediate priority for India will be in identifying end-users and the population to be covered, the existing network and operators, identification of cities for the 5G rollout, working out an investment model, and minimization of the digital risk and pricing based on the usage of various sectors.
Existing infrastructure and capacity building
- The deployment of 5G in India needs to be carefully planned after a cost-benefit analysis by independent experts.
- This will create a level-playing field through market mechanisms such as facilitating, simulating, auctioning, ensuring competition, functioning markets, etc.
Sector-friendliness and financial aid:
- As the deployment of the 5G network is expensive, both the Central and State governments may need to consider measures that aid fibre investment, attract investment through public-private partnerships (PPPs), and facilitate investment funds on a nominal interest basis.
- The government should allow 100% foreign direct investment in the telecom sector along with other policy reforms which will attract investment into the sector.
- The Government needs to address information asymmetry and negative aspects through laws and regulations/taxes and subsidies.
- The deployment of 5G technology will also need the right of access to government infrastructure such as traffic lights, lamp posts, etc. where wireless operators can deploy electronic small cell apparatus.
- Reasonable fees may be charged by State and local governments to operators for affordable deployment of 5G equipment.
- Further, removing the tax burden for deploying fibre networks reduces associated costs and will promote investments, which will help in the smooth deployment of fibre in India.
Bridging the Rural-urban divide
- 5G can be deployed at different band spectrums and the low band spectrum, the range is much longer which is helpful for the rural areas.
- One of the key inputs of 5G is the band spectrum which the government has complete control over. By managing the design of the spectrums, the government can control the price to be paid by the people.
- The government can also support the telecom companies to roll out networks that are sustainable and affordable for the public.
- The government had recently failed to attract any bids in the 5G spectrum.
- The current proposals for the reserve price suggest the need to change the prices to conduct a successful auction.
- The pricing will have to be worked out keeping in mind the financial stress in the sector and affordability of services.
Manufacturing Sector in India
- As 5G starts taking shape in India, it is important to strengthen its domestic telecommunication manufacturing market so that the manufacturers and providers of these technologies will be able to make a mark in the global arena.
- For widespread 5G deployment, it needs to become financially viable otherwise rural integration will remain a pipe dream.
- 5G technology has to be viable to the telecom operators too.