5g rollout

View from India: Customised solutions can unfold opportunities in 5G

A robust ecosystem complete with software and hardware infrastructure will make 5G technology worthwhile.

India’s increasing internet penetration, combined with the digital economy envisioned by the government, has left consumers eagerly awaiting 5G technology. Touted as the fifth-generation technology, 5G has an important role to play in the upcoming rollout of wireless devices, remote healthcare, contactless services, connected systems, Internet of Things devices, smart cities and autonomous vehicles. A wide range of industries are on the cusp of a new revolution to be ushered in by 5G devices, chipsets and service providers. “5G technologies would mostly be lapped up by factories, offices and enterprises. Testing is critical for ensuring the resiliency of network operations; 5G testing can be deployed at the time of configuration,” said Mohmedsaeed Mombasawala, general manager of Keysight Technologies, at the Keysight Technologies panel discussion on 5G Private Networks.

Other than testing, network slicing has a vital role to play as it is expected to support new services. These services can vary in nature – they could meet the requirements of connected cars or pass on a message through a voice call. The throughput, latency and reliability to fulfil these diverse applications can happen through network slicing.

Solutions need to be customised along with new designs and measurements. A cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work, which points to unexplored opportunities and innovative applications. Customisation by its very nature can give scope for innovation. Perhaps this could be the time to explore newer technologies or converge technologies for optimum results. Customers also need to be educated on what 5G means and how it can enhance business outcomes, though this may happen gradually over time.

The immediate mass adoption of everything that 5G offers could be unlikely due to cost; 5G devices are not easily available and, even if they are, they can burn a hole in the pocket. Bigger organisations may somehow manage to pull strings through investors and sail through cost issues, but 5G scalability may seem out of reach for small-scale industries. Alongside that, other aspects revolve around software integration and hardware readiness. Some organisations may leverage the smartphone for public network solutions and not necessarily private network solutions.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that the spectrum prices for 5G airwaves need to be cut down by 35-40 per cent. A base price of Rs 317 crore (Rs 3.17bn, or approximately £33m) per MHz for the most used band of 3300-3670MHz has been suggested. The time period for which the band can be kept is limited to 20 years, but, if the airwaves are sold within 30 years, TRAI has indicated that the base price can be multiplied by 1.5 times.

From the technology perspective, wave spectrum could be seen as part of the puzzle that needs to be solved. Signal path can be a challenge as objects may cause signal obstruction. What comes to mind is the manner in which it impacts business, especially in the case of interconnected services. The cost of impact could sometimes be millions of dollars. Companies could have a hold over the situation by improving the end-to-end system.

Let’s face it, here’s a technology that enables super-fast mobile broadband. And this is not just a technology, for its connectivity quotient can facilitate Industry 4.0, whose services can be understood as immersive experiences, wireless access and smart manufacturing. This could usher in a new era in services. Given its speed, 5G can be the platform for mission critical communication and new deployment models. Whatever the case may be, technical issues as well as ecosystem infrastructure may need to be in place for 5G readiness. Network equipment manufacturers and service providers can scout around for new openings.

As for now, there appears to be a lack of expertise to deal with 5G services and technologies. Companies could invest in 5G skill-set initiatives for their employees; likewise, educational institutions could encourage students to pursue 5G orientation courses. In all, this may help build a roadmap for the 5G journey to unfold. Are you ready for the 5G leap?

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