It seemed like only yesterday when ‘4g’ was the buzz word everywhere, especially when Jio rolled out its inaugural offer. A kind of revolution started with 4g; everyone 5g in India wanted this latest tech. People began buying mobile handsets that could support this new 4g technology. The age of information took over us as the mobile Internet reached every corner of our country. The Internet went from being a luxury of a few to the necessity of the many.
Not even a decade has passed since this revolution started, and we are already at the doorstep of a new technology called 5g. So let’s take a look at what it is and what is the future of 5g in India.
Anyone who has used the web would agree that internet speed or browsing speed can make the browsing experience wonderful or miserable, depending on how fast the rate is. This speed depends upon the signal strength of our network, and this strength is characterized by 3g, 4g, 5g, etc. G simply means generation.
Scientists and engineers work continuously to improve our technologies, and they have brought us to where we are today, starting from 1g taking us all the way to 5g. To see how far that actually is, let’s look at the table below.
|Frequency||30 KHz||1.8 GHz||1.6-2 GHz||2-8 GHz||3-30 GHz|
|Bandwidth||Two kbps||14.4-64 kbps||2 MBPS||2000 Mbps to 1 Gbps||1 Gbps and higher|
The development for 1g in the 1970s, so this has been a five-decade-long journey, but if we listen to the people who have tested 5g, they say that it was worth it. 5g promises internet speeds so fast that it can potentially change the way we do things today, how we interact with people, and so much more. From tech reviewers to ordinary people, everyone is waiting for 5g in India.
5g or the fifth-generation network technology, is the faster younger brother of 4g and its rightful successor. Just like its elder cousins, 5g is also a cellular network. The service area will be divided into smaller geographical regions known as cells. All the 5g enabled devices in a section will be connected to the Internet and telephone network by means of radio waves emitted by a local antenna in that cell.
The main advantage of this technology is the increased bandwidth, which translates to higher browsing speed. This is achieved by using radio waves of a higher frequency than those which were used previously. However, waves with a higher frequency also have a shorter range. This means that the area covered by a single cell will decrease, and more and more antennas will be required than ever before. And three different types of antennas will be needed, as mentioned below.
Low-band: a frequency range of 600-700 MHz (30-250 megabits per second)
Mid-band: a frequency of 2.5-3.7 GHz (100-900 megabits per second)
High-band: a frequency of 25-39 GHz (1-3 gigabits per second)
Some salient features of 5g in India include the following.
- It has high resolution and bi-directional extensive bandwidth shaping.
- It can gather all networks on one platform.
- 5G network will provide uniform, uninterrupted, and consistent connectivity across the world.
- It will be more comfortable and possible to locate and search for the missing person.
Bringing 5g in India is not going to be a walk in a park. Before we can start laying the massive infrastructure necessary for 5g, we need to understand how it will perform in our country. This calls for extensive test runs and field trials. All the major Indian network operators have requested the government for permission to carry out the problems, and they have selected one or more than one equipment vendor with whom they wish to work so as to deliver the 5g technology.
Reliance Jio was the first network operator who approached the Indian government, asking for permission to conduct 5g trials. Jio’s strategy head Anshuman Thakur gave a statement last year, claiming that Reliance Jio is prepared for 5g, and they have the network and backhaul already in place; all they need is to invest in the right equipment and spectrum. They are also considering startups to help them create their whole package of 5g in India.
The package will include products like mobile phones and television set-top boxes. Reliance Jio is the sole network operator in India who has an all-IP network, which is essential for launching 5g in India or anywhere else for that matter, and this will allow them to implement 5g smoothly. They plan to carry out 5g trials along with Samsung, their supplier of 4g network. Jio will extend its partnership in 5g trials to players like Huawei, Nokia, and Ericsson.
Another Indian network giant, Airtel, has also announced a partnership with Huawei, ZTE, Nokia, and Ericsson to conduct 5g trials. They have deployed 100 hops of 5g technology transmission equipment, which they received from Huawei, in order to improve their backhaul capacity by a factor of four. Airtel has also partnered with Ericsson and Cisco to speed up its core network and hence prepare it for the upcoming 5g service.
Vodafone Idea is not far behind in this race either; they plan to conduct 5g trials along with Huawei, Nokia, ZTE, and Ericsson. They are already using 5g artificial intelligence technology, provided by Huawei, so as to boost their existing 4g network.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that spectrum in the ranges of 3300 MHz – 3400 MHz and 3425 MHz – 3600MHz should be made available for 5g services.
There is no doubt in the fact that 5g is going to be an enormous change, and hence bringing that change will require us to overcome many challenges. Our government had planned to auction the 5g spectrum in the second quarter of this year, which has been delayed and now it might happen in the fourth quarter. This delay is due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. There is no certainty as to when this auction will finally take place.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India might also have to reconsider their prices, which were already very high compared to those of other nations such as Italy or South Korea. Our network operators simply don’t have the resources to pay these high auction prices, especially after the Supreme Court ruling in one-time spectrum fees based on adjusted gross revenue and also due to the current state of the economy.
Not just this, since the network range of 5g, is shorter in comparison to all the previous generations, it will require an antenna on basically every street light and every corner. Installing and maintaining an infrastructure of this magnitude serving a population of over a billion people is a herculean task.
Infrastructure alone will not be a significant investment; we will need devices that can support the 5g technology. While there are some devices currently available in the market that are capable of running the 5g network, but they are costly and entirely out of the reach of the masses. Delivering products like mobile phones and wifi dongles, which can not only support 5g but are available at an affordable rate for the common man, will test the might and mindset of a nation that is trying to be self-reliant.
In the age of the Internet, it is easy for anyone or anything to get spiraled in controversy, and now 5g is facing its fair share of controversy. It might surprise you, but the argument is not some spectrum auction getting plagued by corruption, but instead, it is due to a real-world virus, the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
There have been multiple reports of people setting fire to the 5g towers in the United Kingdom. The reason behind this was online conspiracy theories that connected the spread of COVID-19 to the rollout of 5g. Conspirators argued that the coronavirus originated in Wuhan after the city had installed 5g towers. People, who apparently believed this conspiracy, set fire to the 5g masts.
While there is no scientific evidence connecting 5g to the coronavirus, we can still learn from this incident to ensure the safe rollout of 5g in India. Step one would be to keep the auction process transparent, fair for all, and free from corruption. And step two would be to ensure that people are well informed in advance about this technology.
When will India receive 5g
5g is very promising and has the potential to become revolutionary technology in India. Be that as it may, it is not the need of the hour. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic slowdown are threats that are at the top of our priority list, and they have pushed the arrival of 5g in India way into the future.
Under normal circumstances, in a virus-free world with a booming economy, 5g was expected to arrive in India by either late 2020 or early 2021. But now, this is highly unlikely. The preparations were done, but the process was yet to begin in India. We first need to have spectrum auctions; network operators need to secure the money to buy a spectrum so that they can carry out the testing, following which we can think about a commercial launch of the technology.
Even if somehow we manage all of this quickly, there is another hurdle. All the network operators have planned to roll out 5g with help from a number of foreign companies, and with this ongoing pandemic and changing dynamics of global business, those partnerships might suffer as well.
To sum it up, it is very difficult to predict a date for the arrival of 5g in India, but it can take anywhere from three to five years from today before 5g becomes available and accessible in our country.
Frequently asked questions
Q1. When will 5G in India be available?
A1. According to the research and latest updates, Jio is the first company to start its 5G trials. But it can still take another three years.
Q2. Will 5G in India benefit the country?
A2. Yes, it will benefit the country in all aspects. High performance, faster network capability, and a high-speed internet connection will help everyone.
Q3. Does any phone support 5G in India at present?
A3. Yes, there are few phones launched in India which supports 5G in India. They are –
- Samsung galaxy s10; Huawei Mate X; Xiaomi Mix 3 5G; Oppo R15.
Q4. Is it the right time to buy a 5G phone in India?
A4. No, wait for the 5G network to be available in India and let the network expansion in the country. Check for the services and availability in your particular locality.
Q5. Will the smartphone with 5G be on the expensive side of the budget?
A5. As per the research, when 5g will be launched, it will become a necessary criterion for every person who buys the phone. So it should not be too high on your budget list.
Q6. Will the internet plans are different or the same for 3G, 4G, and 5G?
A6. There will be some changes in the plans for the networks, and it will depend on the handset, whether it supports 5G or not. 5G in India is going to be expensive because the companies will want to earn a profit. By the given scenario, where the world is fighting with COVID-19, the world economy has gone down.