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India’s First 5G Testbed

  • 18 May 2022
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: 5G, start-ups, Communication technology (4G, 5G)

For Mains: Uses of 5G, Challenges for 5G Rollout in India

Why in News?

Recently, Prime Minister inaugurated the country’s first 5G testbed that will enable start-ups and industry players to test their products locally, thereby reducing dependence on facilities abroad.

What is the Significance of this Step?

  • It was an important step towards self-reliance in the direction of critical and modern technologies in the telecom sector.
    • The 5G testbed had been set up at a cost of about Rs. 220 crore.
    • In the absence of a 5G testbed, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.
  • India’s own 5G standard had been made in the form of 5Gi which would play a big role in bringing 5G technology to the villages of the country.
    • 5Gi is basically a Made in India 5G standard created through a collaboration between IIT Hyderabad and Madras (Chennai).

What is 5G Technology?

  • About:
    • 5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.
    • It enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
    • Internet speeds in the high-band spectrum of 5G has been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (gigabits per second), while, in most cases, the maximum internet data speed in 4G has been recorded at 1 Gbps.
    • In India, Satcom Industry Association-India (SIA) has voiced concerns over the Government’s plan to include the Millimetre Wave (mm Wave) bands in the 5G spectrum auction.
  • Significance:
    • 5G technology would also bring positive changes in the governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business.
      • This would boost growth in every sector like agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics.
    • This will also increase convenience and create many employment opportunities.

What are the Challenges for 5G Rollout in India?

  • Low Fiberization Footprint: There is a need to upgrade fibre connectivity across India, which at present connects only 30% of India’s telecom towers.
    • For an efficient 5G India launch and adoption, this number has to double.
  • ‘Make in India’ Hardware Challenge: The ban on certain foreign telecom OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) upon which most of the 5G technology development depends, presents a hurdle in itself.
  • High Spectrum Pricing: India’s 5G spectrum pricing is several times costlier than the global average.
    • This will be of detriment to India’s cash-strapped telcos.
  • Choosing the Optimal 5G Technology Standard: The tussle between the homegrown 5Gi standard and the global 3GPP standard needs to be concluded in order to hasten 5G technology implementation.
    • While 5Gi brings obvious benefits, it also increases 5G India launch costs and interoperability issues for telcos.
    • 3GPP is a collaborative Project Agreement between telecommunications industry partners (Organizational Partners) for formalizing global mobile 3G wireless systems based on radio access technologies and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) specifications.

Way Forward

  • The country needs to encourage and boost its local 5G hardware manufacturing at an unprecedented rate if it needs to realise the 5G India dream.
  • Rationalisation of this spectrum pricing is needed so that the government generates adequate revenue from the auction without hampering implementation plans for 5G in India.
  • 5G can be deployed at different band spectrums and at the low band spectrum, the range is much longer which is helpful for the rural areas.

Source: TH

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