New Delhi, October 1
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched the 5G telephony services in the country at the 6th India Mobile Congress at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.
The services will progressively cover the entire country over the next couple of years.
In comparison to 3G and 4G, the fifth-generation mobile network which will be about 10 times faster than 4G has the efficiency to process a very high volume of data messages with a minimal delay. It is also expected to bring more development in remote data monitoring in sectors such as mining, warehousing, telemedicine, and manufacturing, among others.
But for mobile users, the news will bring two worrylines. Going by the trend in the US, if your mobile phone is more than a few years old, it will have to be upgraded to avoid losing service.
Mobile carriers in the country will have to shut down their 3G networks, which rely on older technology. As a result, many older cellphones will be unable to make or receive calls and texts or use data services. This will affect 3G mobile phones and certain older 4G mobile phones that do not support Voice over LTE (VoLTE or HD Voice). When 5G coverage is still limited and devices supporting voice are not widely available at mass market prices, VoLTE will become the foundation for voice service in 5G in the coming years.
Since India is the software jugad capital, existing subscribers need not worry too much. The pesky callers from property dealers and loan sharks will soon be offering software upgrades in telecom circles where 3G phones are operating.
However, they won’t be able to offer much assistance to users of 2G, which is offered only by BSNL. A new phone will have to be purchased.
For more information on your mobile providers’ plans for 3G retirement and how you can prepare, contact your provider directly to free up spectrum and infrastructure to support new services, such as 5G. Similar transitions have happened before. For example, some mobile carriers shut down their 2G networks when they upgraded their networks to support 4G services. Mobile carriers have the flexibility to choose the types of technologies and services they deploy, including when they decommission older services in favour of newer services to meet consumer demands.
The second worry will be of affordability. Telecom service providers (TSPs) have had a quick churn in the Indian telecom market because of their over-enthusiasm in quoting astronomical sums to pocket frequencies. As 5G operates in higher frequency bands that do not have long-distance coverage, the networks will have to be denser. Therefore, a crucial aspect that will add to the operator’s costs is the cost of renting “street furniture” such as electricity poles.
Vodafone Idea and Airtel have been pressing for street furniture fee to be scrapped or majorly reduced from the existing Rs 1,000 per street furniture. The government has been taking initiatives to cut other costs incurred by TSPs. It cut the floor price for the auction of airwaves by an average of 39 per cent though the TSPs want it slashed by 90 per cent. The first seeds of yet another conflict with the government may, hopefully, have not been sown, though the operators may have noticed the industry-friendly approach.
In India, the economic impact of 5G is projected to hit $1 trillion by 2035. 5G can unlock new economic opportunities and societal benefits and help India leap over the traditional barriers to development and further the ‘Digital India’ vision.