5G can really help in fuelling Digital India vision: NXP

NXP Semiconductors offers a robust portfolio of technologies for powering the 5G Access Edge that delivers best-of-class performance and security for infrastructure, industrial, and automotive applications. Here, Sanjay Gupta, VP & India Country Manager, NXP Semiconductors, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:

V&D: How can 5G bring about a revolution in India? We are not yet a digitized nation.

Sanjay Gupta: India is advancing towards becoming a $1-trillion digital economy by 2025, which will essentially require huge transformation of India’s digital infrastructure. While India has come a long way over the years in terms of digitization, what could really help in fuelling Digital Indiavision is 5G. The true potential and use cases of new age technologies like AI, AR/VR, IoT, etc., will only unleash with the advent of 5G in India.

We have already seen many killer applications in other parts of the world where 5G has been commercially launched. Newer and improved forms of applications like chatbots, facial recognition, connected appliances, autonomous drivingetc., will emerge that have the ability to change the way we see the world today, thanks to 5G’s high bandwidth and ultra-low latency. 5G will immensely help industries like healthcare, entertainment, gaming etc.

Futuristic digital reality and immersive games will also benefit greatly. There will also be a paradigm shift in teaching pedagogies, with distance learning combined with classroom teaching to exponentially increase educational efficiency.

5G will also play a huge role in public safety and security through video surveillance, better medical assistance, traffic management and access to real-time database. Another important area where 5G will bring change is smart factory as it will enable seamless communication between machines and robots. 5G will also allow for innovations in the field of healthcare. It would empower the patients who can’t go for a clinic visit to communicate with medical practitioners remotely thereby improving access to treatment, surgery and diagnostic.

5G is further expected to augment the Indian economy in a big way. As per a recent report, it is anticipated that 5G will make a contribution of $450 billion to the Indian economy by 2040.

V&D: What are the technical challenges/roadblocks we need overcome to set up 5G tech in India?

Sanjay Gupta: The type of technology or solutions required for 5G implementation is the most critical factor. We must recognise that the switch to 5G is more than just a network upgrade. Telecom operators that want to be first to market with 5G require a reliable and high-quality 4G network, as well as seamless LTE and 5G interworking.

From an infrastructure standpoint, a lot has to be done. This includes an efficient cloud infrastructure, distributed network architecture, and an agile operating model. 5G will also require a massive level of transformation. Indian telecom operators will need to develop that capability in the form of skills, competence, and operating models. Also, sophisticated RF beam forming, and interference mitigation technologies are needed to achieve India’s goals of 5G.

V&D: How can developing the necessary infrastructure take even longer than building the technology? What is being done about it?

Sanjay Gupta: There is the fact is that transformational rollout of 5G in India is currently hampered by a number of constraints. The rollout of 5G would actually require removal of many technical obstacles, the most important of which is infrastructure. To have a true 5G experience in India, comprehensive fiberization is required. However, towers in the Indian telecom industry are far behind the ideal target of fiberization required for high-speed applications for 5G. In India, around 30% of towers are fiberized, whereas 60% is required to realise the possibility of 5G.

5G deployment in India will leverage basic building blocks designed and developed in other parts of the world as well,rather than depending only on the work being done in India. Yes, the infrastructure establishment will take more time than the technology itself.

V&D: How can ORAN help in 5G implementation?

Sanjay Gupta: Open radio access network (O-RAN) will have a significant impact on the Indian industry because it enables and acts as a forum for developing virtualized RAN software on open hardware with embedded AI-powered radio control, which has been envisioned by operators all over the world. As a result, ORAN is expected to add a new range of opportunities and business lines to the Indian market thanks to its open network architecture and capabilities.

The implementation of ORAN will assist ecosystem players such as telecom service providers, regulatory bodies, OEMs, and others in significantly absorbing and reducing network-related costs. Collaboration between companies will foster creativity and customization. ORAN is gaining traction and allowing many vendors to collaborate and partner. The control unit, data unit, and radio unit can come from different suppliers and connected via a well-defined interface. This willallow major service providers to work directly with different partners to build their own base stations.

NXP became a member of the O-RAN Alliance in the beginning of 2019 because the alliance’s focus on network intelligence, transparency, interoperability, autonomy, and a RAN-based ecosystem aligns with NXP’s 5G product roadmap, strategic alliances, and vision. NXP welcomed the ability to greatly broaden the 5G infrastructure options open to mobile network operators around the world by joining the alliance.

V&D: How can new technologies like 5G, blockchain etc.benefit the functional production landscape?

Sanjay Gupta: New age technologies like 5G, blockchain, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics referred to as Industry 4.0 technologies, are well positioned to revamp the functional production landscape. Any organisation that can take advantage of these innovations would be able to drastically streamline and improve existing processes, develop completely new business models, and develop creative products and services for its customers. New technologies are requisitioning advanced skills, increasing the capital potency of production, raising the importance of innovation ecosystems, and requiring strong digital infrastructure and readiness for manufacturers.

It’s the first time that these transformative innovations have appeared in the same decade, and it’s just the beginning. The digital revolution has transformed technological transformation from a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence to a continuous phase. Any company that falls behind will now face an insurmountable challenge in closing the gap.

V&D: How can India build diversity, resiliency, etc., in their supply chains?

Sanjay Gupta: With the pandemic, came supply chain disruptions that were unparalleled in scope and magnitude and are now amplified. Going forward, it is fair to anticipate a further acceleration of such activities along with consumer-driven shift. This will require newage technologies like 5G, robotics, AI, blockchain, IoT, etc., that allow manufacturers and retailers to maximise opportunities in the most efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective manner.

A developing economy like India necessitates a rethinking of logistics operations and technology utilisation. India’s supply chain and logistics sector are amongst the largest worldwide. India needs to effectively use emerging technologies to build a diversified and resilient supply chain. Usage and implementation of RFID, edge processing and connectivity products can enable quick, accurate tracking of assets, providing greater visibility, deterring theft, increasing productivity, lowering organizational costs, and giving greater control of the overall supply chain process.

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