5G coming to India: The spoilers and more

5G coming to India: The spoilers and more

5G coming to India: The spoilers and more5G coming to India: The spoilers and moreIndia already has a public test bed for 5G in place — at IIT Delhi, installed by telecom gear maker Ericsson. TNN | Jun 4, 2019, 04:28PM ISTTelecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said 5G trials in India will begin in 100 days, and the next spectrum auctions, including that for 5G, would be held within this year.

What is it, and what can it do?

5G refers to high-speed, low latency next-generation communication technology. How fast? A peak data rate of 20 Giga bits per sec (GBit/s) and user experience data rate of 100 Mbit/s. According to a paper by the Department of Telecom, 5G could have a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion in India by 2035. 5G is expected make possible smart factories (industrial IoT), connected cars, smart healthcare, smart cities and such.

Where do we stand?


India already has a public test bed for 5G in place — at IIT Delhi, installed by telecom gear maker Ericsson. Think of this a controlled lab test.

Excited? Now, here are the spoilers

Huawei is one of the leading telecom gear makers on 5G. But the US wants other nations to bar Huawei from 5G works. Though India has yet to do so officially, don’t rule it out as New Delhi is already facing US pressure on multiple fronts — Iran oil, data localisation, GSP.

The cost involved is high. As per consultancy firms Deloitte and EY, an investment of $60-70 billion is required for seamless 5G implementation. Bharti Airtel’s net profit more than halved to Rs 409.5 crore in financial year 2019. Vodafone Idea has reported a quarterly loss of Rs 4878.3 crore. Even Jio’s quarterly profits of Rs 840 crore need to be seen alongside its flat margins. Airtel India CEO has said the company “can’t afford” the “exorbitant” prices of 5G. FYI: A 700 MHz spectrum went unsold last time, and analysts fear the same with the 5G band.

A 5G network that could kick start smart cars and cities needs a hyper dense network of base stations and towers. A TRAI report says small cells will be required every 200-250 metres. Meaning: More expenses. Thus, expect only a curtailed down 5G coverage whenever it comes.

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