In conversation with Voice&Data, Nitin Bansal, Head for Network Solutions – Market Area South East Asia, Oceania & India at Ericsson, talks about 5G in India, what kind of investment that company needs to do for launching 5G services. Excerpts:
Q. What is the main aim of setting the 5G center of excellence & innovation Lab in India?
Ericsson had signed an MoU with IIT Delhi in 2017 to launch the ‘5G for India’ program. As part of the same initiative, we have established this Center of Excellence (CoE) and Innovation Lab at IIT Delhi. We believe that this CoE will stimulate the 5G ecosystem in India by creating a platform for collaboration between the academia, industry and entrepreneurs to come together and create local use cases and applications which can be tested and implemented in the Indian environment.
As technology enablers, we provide awareness to the ecosystem on the capabilities of the technology which is followed by use cases that are very peculiar to different regions. For example, a 5G use case in North America might not be that relevant in India, similarly, a 5G use case in India might not be relevant in China. That’s where these partnerships and the role of academia becomes critical so that they can research and test diverse use cases specific to that region.
Q. According to you when will 5G services start in India?
For India’s journey to 5G, in fact, for any market, different elements of the ecosystem will need to come together. It will happen through the combined efforts of industry players and regulators aligning on spectrum, standards and technology. The Indian Govt is committed to bringing 5G to India by 2020 and from purely the technology side, we have the readiness to make it happen. We have the complete 5G platform to help operators gain a first mover’s advantage. This enables more efficient networks as well as opportunities to create new revenues from emerging consumer and industrial use cases.
Q. What are the challenges that the company faces while deploying 5G in India?
I would say 5G will bring with a great opportunity – to address the rapidly growing data demand on one hand and on the other, it will be a boon for industries. We see 5G enabling a lot of innovation and new use cases for industrial use as well as betterment of society. But as we prepare for evolution to 5G, it is important that we prepare our networks well. For example, it is essential to have a good level of maturity on LTE because 5G will not be an overlay network, it will work in tandem with 4G.
Besides preparing the networks, 5G would need the entire ecosystem to come together. There is the question of spectrum, device ecosystem and eventually operators’ readiness. To conclude, I would say that the need to produce data at a lower cost will drive Indian telecom operators to deploy 5G technology in the country.
Q. What is the kind of investment that company needs to do for launching 5G services?
Before we answer that question, it is important to understand why such an investment is important for operators at this point in time. There are more than 1 billion people in India but only 300 million are using mobile broadband service. This will go from 900 million to 1 billion in the next few years.
Additionally, data traffic per month in India is expected to grow five times by 2023 — rising from 1.9 exabytes (EB) in 2017 to 10 EB by 2023. You will have a tremendous need for technology that can cope with this quality and traffic demand.
5G will reduce the amount operators pay per GB of data by a factor of 10. However, in order for operators to advance to 5G they will need to invest in a strong LTE footprint, which will form the basis for the future 5G networks.
Q. Recently, security researchers have discovered a critical vulnerability in the LTE mobile devices that can allow attackers to get the information from a cellular network, modify the contents of their communication and can even reroute them to malicious websites. Besides,5G networks may also be vulnerable to such attacks.” What are your thoughts on the same? and How secure are 5G networks?
Connected devices and mobile applications require wireless network access that is resilient, secure and able to protect individuals’ privacy, and the 5G system is designed with these requirements in mind. The security and resilience of the 5G system rest on continuous threat and risk analysis as well as more dedicated efforts. The purpose of this is to introduce a balanced set of countermeasures that appropriately match identified threats and risks.
To build secure systems it is important to take a holistic view and not only focus on individual parts in isolation. For example, interactions between user authentication, traffic encryption, mobility, overload situations, and network resilience aspects need to be considered together. It is also important to understand relevant risks and how to appropriately deal with them; threats need to be weighed against the cost of them materializing and the cost of applying countermeasures. This is what 3GPP has done when developing the specifications that constitute the basis for the security of the 5G systems.
Q. Any other information that you would like to share?
I would just like to add that India is today the biggest data consuming market in the world and we see the data traffic levels growing even further. As per Ericsson’s Mobility report, total mobile data traffic per month in India is expected to grow 5 times from 1.9 EB to 10 EB by 2023.
We are committed to bringing 5G to India and establishing this 5G Center of Excellence at IIT Delhi is a part of the same commitment. We are confident that it will stimulate the 5G ecosystem in India unleashing the creativity and innovation of the Indian industry, academia and entrepreneurs, and make 5G a reality in India.