5G refers to the next generation of wireless broadband technology. 5G will be based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard and it will be the successor of 4G wireless broadband technology. From the user’s perspective, 5G networks will offer higher speeds and more interconnect points. As per estimates, 5G will be at least 100X faster and would be able to support hundreds of thousands of users for every single 5G tower. 5G will provide broader signal coverage and it will also improve signal efficiency. Exerts believe that 5G will give a massive boost to Internet of Things (IoT), wherein devices, appliances and gadgets are connected to an internet network and can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
When is 5G launching in India?
If we look at historical data, we see that all telecom technology was introduced in India a few years after it was introduced in developed countries such as the United States. This was evident with the launch of 2G, 3G, and now 4G. However, the government wants to walk shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world during the launch of 5G. Not wanting to be late in the launch of 5G, the Indian government has created a panel of experts that will work to provide a roadmap for the launch of 5G in India. Globally, 5G technology is to be formally introduced somewhere around 2020, and the Indian government is keen on meeting this deadline.
India is one of the largest markets in the world for telecom services and this is the reason why the government is aiming for 5G rollout in 2020. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has already issued a consultation paper that talks about framing standards and regulations that would govern 5G and IoT networks in the country. TRAI has sought inputs from telecom operators on various topics such as 5G rollout obligations, spectrum sale of 700 MHz band, and the valuation system to be used for auction of 3,300-3,400 MHz and 3,400-3,600 MHz bands that are used for 5G services.
Some telecom companies have already started moving in the right direction by testing 5G services in the country. In September 2017, Bharti Airtel announced the launch of Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology, which is considered a support structure for 5G networks. This is the first time MIMO was launched in the country. Even at the global scale, only a few companies are testing MIMO. Airtel’s deployment of MIMO has thus put India on the world’s 5G map. The MIMO technology has been implemented by Airtel in Bengaluru and Kolkata and it may be followed by deployments in other regions also. Other telecom companies such as BSNL, Vodafone, Jio, etc. are also planning to experiment with 5G technology in the coming years.
The only problem Indian telecom companies may face is the huge debt that they are carrying. Due to the huge debts, it would be difficult for Indian telecom companies to invest in creating new infrastructure and buying spectrum. The government may have to come up with a log-term funding mechanism, so that Indian telecom companies can take additional debts to ensure 5G launch in India by 2020.