Preparation for 5G Starts Today!

By: Nitin Bansal,  Head, Network Solutions, MOAI – Ericsson

The introduction of 5G technology will bring a new level of performance and characteristics to the telecom networks enabling new services and creating new ecosystems. New revenue streams will open for operators as they go beyond being connectivity and infrastructure providers to become service enablers and service creators

India remains one of the largest telecom markets in the South Asian region – given both its size as well as the growth potential. In terms of sheer numbers, India’s telecom subscriber base has already exceeded a billion people.

Smartphone penetration has hit a new benchmark with almost 30% of the population having access to one.

Smartphones have in fact become a gateway for rural mobile broadband connectivity. There is rapid evolution taking place within the telecom industry with the introduction of disruptive pricing strategies as well as fast-changing user behavior. The industry is also headed towards consolidation amidst consistent action in the M&A space.

Network Performance

As new apps continue to emerge, and usage behavior evolves, network performance will play an even bigger role in determining smartphone users’ loyalty towards their operators. With this phenomenal growth in data consumption over the past few months, users are looking towards the operators for providing them with an enhanced user experience.

This is bringing the focus of the service providers towards network performance while at the same time making the networks more efficient. Moreover, the service providers want greater agility in the networks to address the demands of evolving customers and emerging business models.  

In fact as per an Ericsson Consumer lab study, mobile broadband experience in India is five times more effective in driving loyalty than tariff structure and pricing.

The usage behavior of the Indian telecom consumer is changing, and data is driving this shift. Be it streaming videos, social media or chat driven apps, data is and will continue to be the key driver for industry growth in the years to come. The smartphone subscriber base in India is increasing rapidly, the conversation on internet penetration has now pivoted to internet usage and considering the disruptive pricing offered by the operators the mobile traffic will continue to see an exponential growth.

Data Growth is Pushing the Envelope

The total mobile data traffic per month in India is expected to grow 11 times from 1.3 EB to 14 EB by 2023 as per Ericsson’s latest mobility report. The report estimates that the monthly data usage per smartphone (GB/month) in India will increase five times from 3.9 GB in 2017 to 18 GB by 2023.

The report also indicates that by 2023, LTE will be the most dominant telecom technology prevalent in India. It will account for more than 60% of the total subscriptions in the country by 2023 compared to the 12% LTE subscriptions in 2017.

The rapidly growing data traffic and the proliferation of IoT devices will continue to put demands on mobile networks and to keep pace with this growth in demand for data services, telecom networks will need to be evolved to the next phase, i.e. 5G.

Getting Ready for 5G

Talking about mobile operators, we have spoken to key decision makers in some of the biggest telecom companies in the world on 5G and have published a study which suggests that ‘5G Readiness’ globally is on the rise.

The report shows that many operators have accelerated preparations for the new technology and trials are being carried out by 78 percent of the respondents. Even here in India, the conversations on 5G have begun with the Indian government committing itself towards bringing 5G technology to the country. There is a great interest amongst telecom operators as well as other industries

Globally, we have signed MoUs with 38 telecom operators and several industry partners and academic and research institutions. Together with our partners we are continuously testing, learning and pushing the boundaries of how 5G can meet the diverse needs of the future. We are bringing the learnings and experience from our global partnerships and are working with partners in India to create the blueprint of 5G deployment in the country.

We have recently signed 5G partnership with Bharti Airtel as well as with IIT-Delhi for our ‘5G for India’ program. In fact, we have been the first ones to bring a live 5G demo to India and we showcased it to industry partners, academia, and representatives from the government in 2017.

Ericsson’s Role

In India, we are a key player in the telecom industry over the years. We have consistently supported telecom operators with innovative products and services in their journey from a voice to a data driven market. Going forward, we are working with operators to plan their transition to 5G. Our radio products, whatever we have delivered in the market since 2015 are 5G ready.  What this means is that telecom operators will have the possibility to run 4G and 5G in the same band with the same radio and the same baseband.

Our latest Ericsson Mobility Report suggests that India will have over 10 million 5G subscriptions by 2023. The introduction of 5G technology will bring a new level of performance and characteristics to the telecom networks enabling new services and creating new ecosystems. New revenue streams will open for operators as they go beyond being connectivity and infrastructure providers to become service enablers and service creators.

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