5G is the next big leap for India’s telecom sector4 min read . Updated: 21 Aug 2020, 09:29 PM IST
- In the second episode of the webinar series ‘Desh ki Digital Udaan’, industry experts discuss the future of mobility in India and the new technologies to look out for.
India’s telecom sector has undergone a complete metamorphosis in the last 25 years. A mobile call which used to cost ₹22 for every minute is now free. The mobile phone itself has changed from a no-frills gadget allowing only voice calls to a pocket device which doubles up as a computer, a camera, a communication device.
In Episode 2 of the webinar series, ‘Desh ki Digital Udaan’ which marks 25 years of mobility in India, a panel of industry experts came together to discuss how this mobile journey is going to proceed in the years to come. The webinar was organised by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in association with the Department of Telecommunications and moderated by Purushothaman KG, Partner and Telecom Sector Leader, KPMG India.
“1 GB of data costs $12.50 in the US, $6.6 in UK and just $0.13 in India. This has allowed every person in the country to have access to mobile phones – we cover roughly 98 per cent of the Indian geography and perhaps even more in terms of the population today," said Akhil Gupta, Vice Chairman of Bharti Enterprises and Executive Chairman, Bharti Infratel.
The next 25 years are expected to be even more exciting as the country has big plans for mobility and data inclusion. “Prime minister Narendra Modi announced a huge rollout of fibre reaching each and every village within 1,000 days. In addition, there are some policies like the cyber policy which is going to affect telecom in a major way," said Lt Gen DR SP Kochhar, Director General, COAI.
As India prepares to use smart technologies to transform cities into smart cities and make the big leap to being a superpower, 5G is expected to be a key driver for Industrial Revolution 4.0. “In India, as part of our mobility report, we have been projecting that 5G enabled digitization revenues will be approximately US$ 17 billion by the end of 2030. 5G is expected to form the backbone of emerging technologies such as IoT, machine to machine communication and provide India with smart infrastructure that will enable Industry 4.0 and open up new opportunities for the country," said Nitin Bansal, MD India and Head of Network Solutions for Market Area South East Asia, Oceania and India, Erricsson.
The telecom sector has had a major role to play in this journey to digitization as it forms the backbone for technologies of the future to reach the masses. “Whatever we see in terms of technological advancements – today we talk of tools like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality, augmented reality and 5G which will enable remote surgeries, driver less cars – is driven by telecom networks. The recent COVID situation has reinforced the fact that without telecom, economies will collapse," Gupta added.
The scope of mobility is going to go far beyond just communications in the days to come. A Gartner report revealed that in the last 4 years, the number of devices that have been implemented on the AI space has increased by 270 per cent. AI itself is has a market worth more than 4.5 billion dollars.
5G is being looked as a game changer for enterprise. “There is a robust momentum towards 5G today. We start with the idea that the number of connected devices is going to exponentially increase. Once that happens, the industry is preparing to invest in the fundamental silicon technologies to advance the cause of edge computing and driving that to create business analytics to get an impact," said Badri Gomartam, Group CTO, Sterlite Technologies.
To support the emerging technologies, the network ecosystem itself will undergo a sea change. Service providers will have to rework their system as one network size won’t fit all in the case of IoT. “You will have varied applications from industry to industry and service to service. We need to ensure a frictionless adoption of IoT services and application," said Randeep Raina, CTO, Nokia India.
“Now, it’s not just about providing a layer of connectivity. You are now getting into an era where the network has to be sliced and passed on to a consumer. That network automation will play a very great enabler to connect the future billion devices. A seamless migration of new networks will be needed," he added.
Even as the switch to 5G is awaited, the early signs of adoption of smart technologies are already being seen and are changing the way we live and communicate. IoT is being viewed as a game changer in the future of mobility.
“As part of the 5G solution launch that we are conducting at our own company, we sponsored a study in the area of gaming. Statistics show that active gamers have increased usage from 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours from pre-Covid to post-Covid. Another major application to go along with IoT is e-health in terms of self-monitoring, diagnostics from home, or even remote surgery. Users will be willing to pay more for better services than what they have," said Jonathan Homa, Senior Director, Solutions Marketing, Ribbon Communications.
Closer home, there are several sectors where intelligent tools are being used to increase efficiency and transform the way we live. “Even today with 4G technologies, IoT is there and is being used to bring about efficiencies. A recent study was done in Delhi on power theft where IoT was used to identify which areas the thefts were happening in and to rectify this and optimise the network. We are also moving towards smart cities enabled with cameras and speed sensors on the roads to catch violators," said Digvijay Sharma, Senior Director, Sales, Ciena Communications India.