Here is an optimist who believes it makes sense to get super-excited about this new technology for rational and practical reasons.
India has made remarkable strides in rolling out the 5G network and the rapid deployment across 300,000 sites has positioned the country among the top ten globally in 5G connectivity. The rollout has also raised hopes and hints at the transformative potential of 5G; envisioning a future where every aspect of Indian life, from healthcare to education, can experience a paradigm shift. The points were made by Prashant Singhal, the Emerging Market Technology, Media and Entertainment, and Telecommunications Leader at EY. He was speaking at the Voice&Data 5G+ Conference, recently.
With efficiency and productivity moving tremendously up, and the cost of production sliding down, we can also control inflation.”- Prashant Singhal, Emerging Market Technology, Media & Entertainment,&Telecommunications Leader, EY
Turbocharging everyone with a confident and optimistic gaze, he said, “We have had a wonderful journey with 5G in the last few years. India, two and a half years back, suddenly saw 5G with spectrum auctions and allocations, showing the fastest deployment to date. Everyone came together to make it happen. If 30% of 5G connections experience 5G –among the top ten globally, then we are doing very well.”
He, however, reminded us that despite the financial situation of the sector, one out of every two smartphones shipped is 5G-enabled. “The experience of downloads has gone up tremendously (19 times better) between 4G and 5G. Video content improvement is also 23-24%,” he said and kept adding one strong reason after another to get chuffed about 5G.
He also congratulated government efforts, especially G20’s success in a massive digital innovation momentum. “Almost one-third of our population is online, using gaming, shopping, and other things. The opportunity to develop the ecosystem is huge, especially with Digi-lockers, UPI, and Aadhaar, with the staggering number of transactions and downloads happening in a limited broadband highway. Imagine what’s possible when we are on the 5G runway!”
NO EMPTY HOPES
He pointed out that to achieve the 5G+ dream, the country will have to do more, collectively as governments, ecosystem players, users, and service providers, to hit the ultimate potential. “Every Indian’s life will change. Just think of use cases as basic, like connecting senior citizens with their kids far away, online education with zero latency, healthcare services, remote surgeries, automated ports, quick digital records that reduce queues in hospitals, etc. With efficiency and productivity moving tremendously up, and the cost of production sliding down, we can also control inflation. We can also become a powerhouse of 5G use cases. Some pilots are in progress in manufacturing, healthcare, and education already.”
For us to become the powerhouse of use cases, we need cross-sector collaboration, he strongly recommended. “Telcos will see growth of 5G data usage. But a greater reason has to come from industries which will use it and from the government.”
Telcos will see growth of 5G data usage. But a greater reason has to come from industries which will use it and from the government.
He also talked about how India’s industrial growth will shine on many fronts. “We can become an R&D hub; now that patents can be energised. O-RAN manufacturing, iPhone, indigenous telecom equipment… all that is getting strong in India. It will help to grow the digital economy, and hopefully, telcos will make money with 5G due to data usage. That is something crucial, with the financial stress that we see in the sector currently.”
CHEERS TO A NEW G
Home broadband, he added, will also be a big disruption. “With FWA and 5G, a new growth engine will be created for home-based entrepreneurs. We are all entrepreneurs in this country, if only we could have 5G-level connectivity.”
All the 5G promises and more look possible, provided people experience 5G and operators can connect the entire country. We are on a good path.
He urged some critical changes like rationalisation of levies in the sector, license fees, ROW charges, etc. (and last-mile implementation of some of these policies). A look at tariffs with a fresh lens will also help, especially as they are among the lowest in the world, which is great for consumers but can lead to data misuse. And we should move towards better ARPU. The use of USOF funds is also something that needs attention. Plus, with all the data that will be generated with 5G, available with telcos, we also need to take care of utilisation of data, and new IP dynamics with AI’s advent in alignment with new regulations that are developing, he added.
“All the 5G promises and more look possible, provided people experience 5G and operators can connect the entire country. We are on a good path. Now that we are on the moon and exploring the Sun, we are quite strong to achieve this future,” he said, adding, “I hope none of us retire in the next decade. Because the next 10 years are going to be exciting.”