5G launch in India likely by 2020, economic impact of $1 trillion by 2035

5G network wireless systems and internet of things with modern city skyline | Photo: Shutterstock
Fifth-generation (5G) telecommunication services, which can create an economic impact of $1 trillion in India by 2035, are expected to be launched in the country by 2020. To make 5G a success in India, a steering committee on 5G has suggested increasing the quantum of spectrum with lower pricing.


The committee, headed by Stanford University Professor A J Paulraj, was formed in September last year to formulate a road map for 5G in India. “By acting early to embrace the 5G opportunity, India can accelerate the 5G dividend and potentially also become an innovator in 5G applications,” the panel said in its report submitted to the government.


The panel has given wide-ranging recommendations entailing spectrum policy, regulatory policy, development of application standards, education, etc. The panel feels the quantum of licensed mobile spectrum in India is much lower as compared to countries like the US and the UK. Also, the cost of spectrum, relative to per capita gross domestic product, is much higher than most countries.


“Both these factors drive up infrastructure costs. Also, in recent years, the high cost of spectrum has left large quantities of unsold spectrum. It is important that India correct these anomalies in 5G,” the panel said.


It has also been proposed that to enhance spectrum availability, there should be coordination with relevant ministries, and 5G spectrum should be allocated at the earliest.


Paulraj said the 5G road map pursued by India should not only move the country forward but also result in progress of weaker sections of society.


The panel has also proposed some kind of financial support as 5G networks will need new business models which will bring higher investment risks to service providers. “We recommend that the government offer a comprehensive support package. One example of support can be to designate 5G networks as essential infrastructure and allow telecom service providers access to capital at lower cost,” the panel recommended.


Regarding 5G trials, the panel said significant follow-up is needed to ensure successful trials that advance India’s 5G progress. It has been proposed that a trials oversight committee should be constituted for each of the major trials, with representatives from the original equipment manufacturer, lead telecom operator, and related entities.


5G has been designed for global adoption, with flexibility to support a wide number of applications. Its adoption in India will involve many use cases adopted widely in the world, but also some unique applications to suit India’s needs.

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The panel feels 5G’s value for India may be even higher than in advanced countries because of the lower levels of investments in physical infrastructure. “5G may offer ‘leapfrog’ opportunities by providing ‘smart infrastructure’ that offers lower cost and faster infrastructure delivery,” it added.

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