How 5G technology is critical to India’s digital dream

By Sanjay Kapoor & Ayon Banerjee

While 5G is constructed on the successes of 4G networks, it supplies a chance for telcos to maneuver past offering connectivity providers, to creating wealthy options and providers for shoppers, industries and infrastructure.

Worldwide, greater than 40 telecom operators have already launched 5G. But given the present turmoil in India’s telecom trade, pundits proceed to query the necessity — and viability — of launching 5G right here.

While it’s true that from the mid-1990s, India has been behind the curve in use instances whereas being forward in know-how, we appear to be at a brand new level the place this hole could possibly be bridged.

Technology is essential to India’s digital ambition. The consistently evolving want for increased pace, together with plans for good cities, industrial automation, related gadgets, and so forth, make 5G inevitable. So, it turns into essential for each operators and GoI to develop and undertake it in a speedy and environment friendly method.

Four foundational blocks want to return collectively to make 5G a actuality:

Spectrum availability:
Department of telecommunications (DoT) has earmarked 300 MHz within the mid-band spectrum of the three.3-3.6 GHz vary for 5G. This affords good protection and pace, and has huge worldwide consensus. Also, the sub-1GHz band, given its energy for good indoor protection, is greatest suited to the huge Internet of Things (IoT) use instances, however is presently getting used for broadcasting and radiolocation providers. In addition, the band above 24 GHz can be getting acceptance globally due to lightning quick knowledge charges (over 2Gbps) and big capability.

While discovering the precise spectrum is vital, the principle problem will probably be pricing. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has prompt a base worth at Rs 492 crore per MHz — an extra burden of about Rs 50,000 crore for 100 MHz. Its proposed reserve worth is as much as six instances increased than that of comparable spectrum bought lately in international locations like South Korea, Spain, Britain and Italy. This makes for a extremely weak enterprise case for telcos, a lot of whom are already reeling beneath extreme monetary challenges.


5G deployment would require overcoming a number of technological and operational challenges, the most important one being intensive fiberisation. Most operators are at about 20-25% fiberisation. However, a very 5G expertise would require upwards of 80% fiberisation. The antennae may also must be upgraded at each web site whereas requiring virtualisation of the core and the entry with a completely new orchestration layer to realize the essential characteristic of 5G community slicing.


Telecom operators are burdened with debt to the tune of Rs four lakh crore. They are nonetheless attempting to completely monetise 4G providers. Why, then, will investing in 5G at this level be clever? 5G deployment will probably be a long-term, strategic determination for any operator, as it can contain a heavy upfront funding with an extended payback interval. But within the close to time period, excessive mobile broadband (eMBB) and stuck wi-fi entry (FWA) can present monetisation alternatives, whereas additionally serving to divert visitors from 4G to a extra environment friendly 5G, thereby decreasing community prices.

Enterprise use instances that utilise huge IoT with ultra-reliable, low-latency communications to remodel verticals reminiscent of manufacturing, utilities, healthcare, retail, agriculture and automotive, will achieve important efficiencies as they undertake 5G at scale.


Apart from making a constructive atmosphere for 5G’s launch in India, the most important problem GoI must resolve is to assist telcos overcome the prevailing monetary disaster.

The spectrum coverage ought to give attention to incentivising heavy funding in 5G, together with assist for long-term, unique, technology-neutral spectrum licences, as an alternative of attempting to search for monetary windfall straight away. GoI and operators ought to collaborate to create an ecosystem able to leveraging 5G technology. A beneficial coverage will not directly allow advances in areas together with employment, know-how and funding.

The shift from 4G to 5G shouldn’t be incremental in nature, however transformational. Given what it means for your complete ecosystem, skipping it’s not a selection India can afford.

(Kapoor and Banerjee are senior adviser and managing director, respectively, Boston Consulting Group)

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