How will a 5G network power the future?

jatin
By jatin June 11, 2019 08:32

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On Monday, June 3, Union Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad 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.

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  • In a first step towards preparing for these auctions, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had in August last year recommended that entire available spectrum be put to auction in the forthcoming sale.
  • As a result, a total of 8,644 MHz of spectrum will be put on sale, making it the largest ever such auction. The total base price of the total airwaves on sale is about ₹4.9 lakh crore.
    • Spectrum auctions are a major revenue earner for the government. In the last auction, held in October 2016, it fetched the government over ₹65,000 crore. However, 60% of the spectrum remained unsold.
  • For 5G spectrum, i.e. the spectrum in 3300-3600 MHz which will be put out for bids for the first time, the regulator has recommended a pan-India reserve price of about ₹492 crore per MHz for unpaired spectrum.

Issues with Auction

  • Some private telecoms have, however, expressed apprehensions about the auction this year. They have pointed out that the reserve price of these airwaves is very high.
    • The Telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (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.
  • 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.
  • Vodafone Idea has requested that the 5G spectrum should not be put on sale before 2020 as there is a need to first develop India-specific use cases.
    • A report on 5G by Deloitte stated that it is anticipated that the industry might require an additional investment of $60-70 billion to seamlessly implement 5G networks. Ernst & Young too estimated a similar amount of investment to implement 5G.
    • However, to develop India-specific usage scenarios and applications. Ericsson has installed a 5G test bed at IIT Delhi for developing applications in the broadband and low latency areas.

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What is 5G?

  • 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
  • In April, South Korea and the U.S. became the first countries to commercially launch 5G services. South Korea claimed it was the first to do so, beating the U.S. by a couple of hours, a claim disputed by U.S carriers.
  • China too has handed out commercial 5G licences to its major carriers earlier than expected.
  • While India is yet to begin trial for 5G network. Government is targeting 2020 as the launch year for 5G in the country.
    • The government had launched a three-year programme that started in March 2018 to advance innovation and research in 5G with a budget of ₹224 crore.
  • However, A government panel report on 5G says that even after the entry of 5G into the Indian networks, the earlier generation mobile technologies (2G, 3G and 4G) will continue to remain in use and that it may take 10 or more years to phase them out.

Benefits of 5G

  • 5G is expected to form the backbone of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine communications, thereby supporting a much larger range of applications and services, including driverless vehicles, telesurgery, and real-time data analytics.
    • The ultra-low latency offered by 5G makes the technology desirable for such use cases
  • 5G technology will extend the use of wireless technologies to completely new sectors of the economy from industrial to commercial, educational, health care, agricultural, financial and social sectors.
  • 5G can help to 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.
  • One of the primary applications of 5G will be the implementation of a sensor-embedded network that will allow real-time relay of information across fields such as manufacturing, consumer durables and agriculture.
  • It is widely accepted that 5G’s value for India may be even higher than in advanced countries because of the lower levels of investments in physical infrastructure.
    • “5G may offer ‘leapfrog’ opportunities by providing ‘smart infrastructure’ that offers lower cost and faster infrastructure delivery,”
Economic Benefits
  • 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.

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jatin
By jatin June 11, 2019 08:32