Spectrum Auctions Done, 5G Is Coming Soon; Here's What To Expect
With the conclusion of the auction of fresh wireless spectrum on 1 August, the nationwide rollout of 5G mobile services in India may happen in a few months.
Rapid advancements: Two weeks ago, Bharti Airtel announced the successful trial of India’s first 5G Private Network at the Bosch Automotive Electronics India facility in Bengaluru.
Similarly, Reliance Jio, Vodafone-Idea, and Adani Data Networks have all invested to varying degrees in spectrum suited to 5G services.
What's 5G? It stands for the new global wireless standard that will fuel the fifth generation of mobile networks.
It comes after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.
5G enables a network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together, including machines, objects, and devices.
Network capabilities moved from voice-only in the first generation to digitally delivered voice with SMS (text messaging) in Gen 2.
In 3G networks, data was added to voice.
Then arrived 4G, which offered broadband on mobile using technologies like LTE and VoLTE (Voice over LTE — the preferred technology for Jio phones).
Need for speed: 5G is capable of much higher data speeds — 5-10 times faster than the best one would get with 4G. This will lead to considerably faster downloads of movies, music, and other multimedia files.
Overcoming latency: Latency is the lag between the time that a packet of data is sent and when it is received, leading to awkward gaps in many international calls. This gap could come down to 1/100th to 1/1000th of a second — which will be imperceptible.
Advancing digitisation: 5G will provide faster web services, online banking, and shopping. Transactions will be almost instantaneous.
Users can expect an enhanced experience with rapid progress being made in augmented reality.
The global standard governing 5G is called 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) from the agency that also created the standard for 3G and 4G phones.
India created its own standard called 5Gi, with extensions that allowed more power on the handset and better reach in rural areas.
There were concerns surrounding the compatibility of tech complying with the two different standards, but a solution was soon reached.
The International Telecommunications Union and other standards bodies subsumed some features of 5Gi into 3GGP and India has agreed that any future iterations of 5Gi will be rolled out under the umbrella of 3GGP.
How to access 5G networks: To receive 5G, a special type of chip is required and only a 5G-compatible phone will have it.
Smart handsets are evolving fast. Due to global Covid-19-induced chip shortages, many planned releases of 5G phones by the Big Five handset makers have been delayed.
Meanwhile, chip designers are upgrading or tweaking the 5G features. These will need to be mass-produced and then shipped before phone makers can incorporate them.
It is recommended that late-to-end 2022 will be a good time to buy a new phone or trade in an old device for a 5G-compatible phone.
The cost of 5G services will be slightly higher than that of 4G services.
Considering the huge spend on the new spectrum, some of which are in bands best for 5G, an increase in phone subscription costs may be inevitable.
But the costs of 5G will be compensated for by its benefits.
Bottom line: With the government looking to leverage 5G in healthcare, citizen-friendly financial services, smart cities, and education, among other areas, ease of living for citizens will see an uplift.
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