Mobile networks have seen a major transformation since the launch of the first-generation mobile services, which were capable of transmitting only voice calls. The current generation of mobile networks (fourth-generation, or 4G) is adept in handling higher data speeds required for multimedia streaming, besides providing basic network operations like voice calls, messages and web browsing. However, with the changing connectivity needs, rising mobile data traffic and a new category of connected-ecosystem products, there is a need for yet newer generation of mobile network that can provide even higher data speeds at low latency and enhanced throughput to handle more simultaneous connections without causing disruptions. And, this is exactly what 5G telephony is all about.
As the name suggests, 5G is the fifth-generation cellular network technology. It is designed to improve network connections by addressing the legacy issues of speed, latency and utility, which the earlier generations and the current generation of mobile networks could not address. 5G is promised to deliver data speed at a rate 100 times faster than 4G networks. Importantly, it is designed to transmit data almost instantly with a network latency of less than 10ms. It will also have an enhanced throughput to handle more simultaneous connections at a time than current-generation networks.
Globally, 5G network deployment is rapidly moving from trials to early commercialisation. In India, network operators like Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio, etc, have already partnered with vendors like Ericsson, Huawei and Samsung for planned trials sometime by the end of this year, before the service’s forecast commercial rollout in 2020. According to the GSM Association, a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, the following developments have taken place in India on the 5G front:
1. Bharti Airtel and Huawei have successfully conducted India’s first 5G network trial under a test setup at Airtel’s network experience centre in Manesar, Gurgaon, achieving a user throughput of more than 3 Gbps. Bharti Airtel has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nokia and Ericsson to support the company in its preparations for 5G rollout.
2. Vodafone Idea has also proposed 5G trials with multiple vendors, including Huawei and Ericsson.
3. Samsung will conduct 5G field trials in New Delhi in 2019, and is working closely with the DoT. The company is also likely to be one of Reliance Jio's partners for its 5G field trials.
4. BSNL has signed an MoU with Ciena to conduct field trials with the goal of a commercial launch by 2020. Ciena and BSNL intend to jointly evaluate fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul transport-based use cases and scenarios to address resilience requirements and latency concerns.