There has been a lot of talk around 5G. It is the balance with data that is very important. Do the use cases justify the balance of getting in the technology?
Voice&Data recently organized the 20th Annual Edition of Telecom Leadership Forum, a meeting of the telecom leaders and other key stake holders from India and across.
During the event visionaries and industry leaders came forward with the innovative ideas and laid the foundation for better today & tomorrow. They addressed the current challenges, opportunities, future scenario of the telecom Industry.
Telecom industry has witnessed major changes. It is evolving since the beginning from landline calls to mobiles, 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G. 5G-Touted as the game changer across industry, both in B2B space & B2C space.
Creating the 5G Balance for Human, Machine & Data:
5G has the potential to enable fundamentally new applications, industries, and business models and dramatically improve quality of life.
This plenary session was joined by Dr. Anand Agarwal, Group CEO, STL-Sterlite Technologies, TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum, and Manoranjan (Mao) Mohapatra, Executive Director & CEO, Comviva. The moderator of this panel was Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, Cybermedia Group.
Exploiting the potential of 4G:
The balance between human, machines, and data is very important when we talk about 5G. Gupta asked Ramachandran to talk about if we have fully exploited the potential 4G so far? What new things are going to happen when 5G rolls out?
Ramachandran found the topic brilliant. He said 5G brings a lot into play, it is very contextual, coming from an oriental side, and we are able to relate to that.
He talked about all the generations from 2G to 5G. When 2G was being crafted under GSM standard; he was part of the team. He added that 2G came out beautifully and became dominant that time. 3G was hyped but disappointed. Again 4G came quietly in India and made an impact. Then the broadband has happened, but 4G has not been properly been exploited yet.
As we are now entering in 5G, which is very important, because we are into Digital India, and digital transformation. 5G represents the one of the last frontier of the Digital Transformation. The discussion about balancing human, machines, data is very important at the moment.
Use-cases of 5G:
5G will transform telecommunications and other Industries to a new level. Gupta asked Dr Agarwal the use-cases of 5G, how exactly these use cases can be used to provide different types of services in different sectors.
Dr Agarwal said the discussion about the human machine interface is very important at the moment, and 5G is different from 4G. 4G was about connectivity, getting the Internet on mobile devices, etc. 5G is connectivity with very high-power, ubiquitous computing, etc. The smartness will come in with 5G. There will be Industry 4.0, automation, connected machines, etc., that are currently happening within factories, in India and outside India. Next, connected vehicles and self-driving cars are becoming prominent, along with compute, enabled by 5G. There will also be multiple healthcare apps. There will be two-way communications without any latency. You are combining that with the compute capability.
With 5G, in healthcare, you can also start performing surgeries remotely. Smart cities apps, such as face detection for security reasons, smart homes with multiple apps, etc. All these use cases are now becoming possible as you have connectivity. And, you have great compute! You can run any of these AI apps with any kind of augmented reality (AR) to extended reality (XR) scenarios. These apps were thought through earlier, and have now become alive with the confluence of these two technologies.
Is the scenario more of a push, or is it pull?
Manoranjan Mohapatra noted that as of now, it is a little bit of both. The good thing about 5G is that it is a discontinuity in terms of what it brings on the table. It is also a continuum in terms of the upgradation of systems from 4G to 5G. From the telecom industry’s point of view, the investments are not written off after a generation. There will be a continuity, The way the networks are evolving, more and more of the core is becoming compute. The real differentiation in all of the Gs involved would be in the radio. 5G excites me as it gives near zero latency, and very high capacity.
An example is high-speed sports getting covered with maybe, 4-6 cameras, instead of a 1,000 cameras, and beaming in AR, and other stuff, such as 3D-4D video at very high speed. This will only be possible with 5G. 5G changes the user experience (UX). That’s what users are demanding like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The more you give, the higher up you want to go. That’s going to be the pull.
5G will also bring about change for the enterprises, the rural India and the common mass. Most of the business models were focused on the top layers of the pyramid, such as higher ARPUs, high data usage subscribers, etc. That’s what everybody went after. 5G will present an opportunity for a business person running some service to look at the bottom of the pyramid, such as looking at low-end farmers and looking at agriculture as a business. It is the same for healthcare. It is about technology enabling the lower strata of the society.
Next, Gupta said when there is talk about machine and human interaction, there seems to be a block that needs to be overcome. The airlines industry has had automation for a very long time. Yet, we have had plane crashes, where the machine overrides the human being. Is this fear justified?
Agarwal said that we need to be aware of the possibilities that we put into the machines. As long as the clarity and awareness is there, it is good. With this kind of automation, a huge amount of safety also came in. That’s what’s going to happen with the connected vehicles! You can have more safety and disposable time for people. You can have less accidents, less fuel consumption, etc. Is it possible for someone to hack into a car? Theoretically, yes, that could be possible. And, that possibility is there for multiple things. People can hack into a power grid or a financial system. For a connected society, for someone to hack in and mis-program a machine is always there.
We have got to make sure that there are enough of these checks and balances present in the systems. Interfacing, for the most part, could be controlled by human beings. If at all, there is one in a billion possibility, you can keep closing that. The benefits far outweigh the fear that is there.
Human beings can take the final decision. Machines take in more AI, and more intelligent decisions, the humans are looking at the critical data, and taking the decisions at some point. What is your view?
Ramachandran believed this fits in very well. One is the aspect of ubiquity, near-zero latency, extreme high speeds, etc. However, unlike the earlier disruptions, there are fears that are raised. It is a continuum from 4G to 5G. Most people are unaware that the advanced properties of LTE-A is knocking on the doors of 5G. especially, with latency and speeds. We have still not exploited the full potential of 4G. Many countries are running 4G networks, and 5G is here as it is part of the continuum. The innovation is going to bring in rich rewards and user capability.
We are going to give more and more power to the users. Eg., how are they going to use AI? AI is going to become more and more a part of the system. It will be all pervasive. There will be ubiquity, and that is going to help. Yes, it does raise some fears, but those could be easily addressed. As an eg., someone can say there is so much of proliferation of antennae, and therefore, radiation, and therefore, are we going into something unknown? Yes, and no! We are also going into a lot of small antennae. There will be a lot less radiation, less power levels. There are lots of processes involved.
Agarwal gave an example of the Aarogya Setu app. There is the issue of privacy vs. the benefits. Where do you draw the line?
Gupta asked: Who draws the line? Where do we strike this balance?
Mohapatra felt that It is the user who decides the adoption, and not the manufacturer and the seller. The user risk curve is also a normal distribution. Eg., I was a late adopter of netbanking. As the thresholds move up, the safety standards evolve. People who are late adopters, will continue to be so. Eg., in cars, as the safety bags evolved, the speed of the cars moved up.
As driverless cars come into play, I expect a certain number of people shying away from adoption. As standards, safety norms and parameters move up, people will get comfortable and start adopting, and keep moving. It is a natural course of evolution with respect to IoT and machine learning. The adoption curve will depend on the level of comfort we are able to collectively give to the user. The user will decide on its adoption in a faster or a slower way.
Gupta added that the talk about intrusion or privacy becomes very high when you talk about new technology. How do we address this privacy issue?
Agarwal said that the privacy issue depends more on our own decisions. The more higher the desire, and degree of being connected, the more power we are giving towards reducing our presence. That’s where the degree of regulation starts coming in as well. One, there can be personal, self-regulation. Second, a regulation that is being inducted by the companies that are themselves involved in the business. Third, it is also the state-sponsored regulation.
It is our choice whether we want to be on any social platform. Those choices will be taken by individuals. The companies involved in the business will start taking some of the choices. That’s also where the aspect of higher benefit vs. privacy will come in. Eg., if I am being detected by a face-detection camera at an airport, it is increasing the security multifold in real-time. However, I would not want the same camera to be monitoring my every move throughout the city. That’s the line between what we do and where the regulations come in. We need to decide what is the greater benefit any technology or connectivity is providing. If I am uncomfortable, I can push the regulation towards that side.
Talking about the regulatory aspects, Ramachandran said that from the BIF’s point of view, there needs to be a rational spectrum pricing. Since 2010, there has been a lot of research. The loser is the end user. At least 60% of the spectrum has gone unallotted. The country has lost several lakhs of crores. Spectrum is useful only when it is put to use. The second part is that we don’t have enough bandwidth capacity in the backhaul. We also need more fiber capacity on the ground.
India is abysmally low, as compared to most countries. India is deficient in fiber, and is perhaps, more deficient in Wi-Fi. Broadband, 5G, etc., are all demanding technologies. We need more spectrum, Wi-Fi, fiber, broadband, etc., on the ground.
Gupta noted that there is this legal issue about liability. Who is the entity liable?
Mohapatra said that 5G is evolving, and it is not mature yet. Let us look at privacy. Eg., if I go to Facebook, or any social media, there is the discomfort that the things that I don’t know may be put out on the public domain. It is a lag indicator. As more people use these, there will be more questions asked.
Another eg., when self-driven cars come on the road, what happens to insurance? Questions about legality, accountability, etc., are still very fluid. It is not very clear who would be liable. There is the device manufacturer, service provider, and the user. The person providing the service has to be responsible for providing the safety and security. We can’t blame it on the machine.
Gupta asked where will be the balance between the machine and data? Mohapatra said that it will start with more control with the humans. The balance will be tilted in favour of the humans. With every passing day, the balance will shift more towards the machines. I call it: Raising of the threshold.
Ramachandran noted that this is going to be a step of what will happen with 6G, and even 5G. You will get the development of some sixth sense between the machine and the data. This will be because of zero latency and extremely high speed. The physics of electronics communications is beginning to merge with the metaphysical world.
Agarwal felt that the balance will be in terms of how we control the technology? Technology should be making us much more capable as a species, much more productive, and taking away lots of inefficiencies in the value chain. How we use those things effectively, will define the future of labour, etc. It all depends on how we are able to control this technology. We have always found unique ways to leverage technology. We will do the same here, as well. 5G will get used across multiple areas.