Fiber, affordable spectrum driven with government support, infrastructure investments, the right use of software and private networks– a lot needs to be addressed in order to fully capture the power and potential of 5G.
The inaugural session at the conference ‘5G for Delivering Transformation’ by CyberMedia and Voice&Data led the tone of the conference in a quintessential way. A lot of pragmatic, salient and challenging issues were laid down by some industry stalwarts.
5G will be a game-changer for the Telecom industry – Dr. SP Kochhar
Talking about ‘Building flexible front-haul to deliver 5G’ Lt Gen Dr. S P Kochhar, Director General, COAI said that 5G is an avant-garde technology which will revolutionize our world with enhanced broadband, ultra-reliable and low-latency communications. “Putting it simply – it means greater speed, higher bandwidth and a boosted economy. India is gearing up to embrace this shift and 5G will be a game-changer for the Telecom industry. It will stir up a lot of disruption with emerging technologies like IoT, artificial intelligence etc. The evolution of front-haul mobile networks has mirrored the increasing reliance on optical fiber. Front-haul transmission is forecasted to triple in the next five years. This trend is driven and enabled by architectural and functional changes.”
He also pointed at some imperatives that we need to gear up for. “Investments in key components of 5G network is going to be significant. The industry has been under financial stress. Despite financial constraints, telecom providers have continued to provide seamless connectivity. To accommodate 5G, there is need for deployment of optical fiber. Presently only a limited scale (33 per cent) of our mobile towers are connected with fiber. The situation demands desperate improvements if we need to derive full gains from 5G. Although government has taken many measures there are still some gaps around. State governments should focus on a uniformed policy across all states and departments.”
5G will serve diverse applications for which we would need more spectrum. That is where we need to look at affordable pricing, he stressed. “We should adopt have a long-term benefits and not short-term revenue generation angle here. The industry needs to make extensive investments in towers, network capacity and other areas. The industry needs immediate relief to make the required investments and make the vision of new India a concrete reality.”
Excitement in the Public in Adopting 5G – TV Ramachandran
Underlining the importance of ‘5G Private Networks for Industry 4.0 and more’ TV Ramachandran, President, BIF said that there is much excitement in many sections of the public in adopting the 5G impact. “To reach out to the vast and challenging terrains of the country will take effort and time. Benefits of 5G may not be available to a large section of the economy for some time. Many sectors are waiting for 5G’s gains. But should we wait that long? I would say a resounding ‘No’ here. The key is to go ahead with private networks. A private 5G network is a network built as a dedicated infrastructure for a private enterprise or a public agency. The assets and the network are owned by the entity; and cover only the geographical spread of that campus.”
He explained that ownership and dedication of infrastructure makes it all designed so carefully to meet the tight SLAs of that organization. “It is important to note that these networks do not need heavy investments. They can be built by infrastructure specialists or a telco or a combination of these entities. This makes it a win-win situation for all segments of the industry. Private networks are easy to cover reach to far areas.” They also help to overcome spectrum challenges, as he hinted.
“Private networks are driven by clean spectrum, consistent and reliable coverage. They offer ultra-low latency features for time-sensitive operations and offer a seamless support for robotics. They also enable use-cases like hazard detection, AR, VR etc. 5G is part of a national critical infrastructure so security is a strong element to be considered where these networks help.”
The World has Changed Forever – Sanjay Kaul
The conference also dwelt upon the important angle of 5G & Future of Internet. Sanjay Kaul, President-Asia Pacific & Japan, Service Provider Business, Cisco Systems reasoned that the world has changed forever and the way we look at our industry is something we could not have imagined a few years back. “Traffic continues to grow, full WFH or hybrid WFH is pervasive in many organizations of the world, while education and governance have become digital. Every business and service has pivoted to a digital mode. These are the forces that are truly driving us to create the future. As we enter this era of super-broadband, ultra latency and digital services that will fast-track every industry’s journey towards digital, we will see new actors and ecosystems. All of that creates an opportunity.”
There are still see so many people who do not have access to a decent broadband, he added as a disappointment. “We are pushing the boundaries to solve this gap. We are doing it through software innovations, silicon breakthroughs, optical innovations, embedding these pieces into end-to-end and connected systems.”
The Transformation Would be Across Industries – Prof. Amit Kapoor
Can 5G drive local innovations & start-ups – this aspect was addressed well by Prof. Amit Kapoor, Honorary Chairman, Institute for Competitiveness. He translated how the advent of smart, connected and information-powered products is going to change the industry. “The transformation would be across industries – education etc. What 5G does is, it creates a latency-less environment for education. This will lead to new business models in many industries too. He also added how bargaining power of buyers would improve and they would enjoy smarter products.”
He pointed at some caution areas as well. “We will arrive in an era of system-based competition. It can also create some barriers of entry. Would it be then small players or large players getting an advantage then? Disruption is underway and players have to be smart to make the most of it. Technology will always produce new growth areas.”
We cannot have ecosystems working in siloes, he argued. “With latency reduced to considerable levels, real-time monitoring can be enabled. What happens to privacy? Such questions will arise and we would need to answer them.”
If 5G can be approached with all these lenses, India can certainly drive a confident and unprecedented wave of 5G transformation.