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Where 5G rollout stands in India and in other countries?


The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said that Gurugram, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jamnagar, Ahmadabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune, and Gandhi Nagar would be among the first cities to get 5G services in 2022.


GS-III: Science and Technology (IT & Computers, Innovations & Discoveries)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. 5G Technology and Spectrum
  2. How will 5G change the experience?
  3. Where does India stand in terms of trials and launch?
  4. Why will some cities have 5G technology earlier?
  5. Are other countries and global companies ahead of India?
  6. 5G Club plan to counter China

5G Technology and Spectrum

  • 5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It will take a much larger role than previous generations.
  • Trials and the first commercial services are already showing what great potential 5G networks have. But significant amounts of widely harmonised spectrum are a must for this potential to come true. 5G spectrum is needed across three ranges: Sub-1 GHz, 1-6 GHz and above 6 GHz.
  • Pioneering ultra-high speeds and the lowest latencies are dependent on access to spectrum in the latter range. Here, 26 GHz and 28 GHz have emerged as two of the most important 5G spectrum bands.
  • The result means national governments around the world now have the opportunity to consider 5G spectrum assignments across the identified mmWave spectrum. In doing so, they will help deliver long-lasting socio-economic benefits.

The other mobile network generations are 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G.

  1. 1G delivered analog voice.
  2. 2G introduced digital voice (e.g., CDMA).
  3. 3G brought mobile data (e.g., CDMA2000).
  4. 4G LTE ushered in the era of mobile Internet.

The Three bands of 5G

  • While the low-band spectrum has shown great promise in terms of coverage, the maximum Internet speed is limited to 100 Mbps (megabits per second). This means that while telcos can use and install it for commercial cell phone users who may not have specific demands for very high-speed Internet, the low-band spectrum may not be optimal for specialised needs of industries.
  • The mid-band spectrum offers higher speeds than low-band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals. Telcos and companies that have taken the lead on 5G have indicated this band may be used by industries and specialised factory units for building captive networks.
  • High-band offers the highest speed among the three, but has extremely limited coverage and signal penetration strength. Speeds in this spectrum have been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (gigabits per second), while in most cases, the maximum Internet data speed in 4G has been recorded at 1 Gbps.

How will 5G change the experience?

  • One of the major changes will be in terms of rich experiences on their phones and other connected devices – users will be able to stream videos with multiple camera angles during sports matches or even play immersive video games using VR headsets or other accessories.
  • This next-generation telecom network will also enable a mesh of connected Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices and services with zero-fail rate, as in the case of connected cars.
  • 5G could also spawn high-speed mobile broadband connectivity to replace existing broadband services, especially in locations where these services are constrained, provided there isn’t a huge price differential.

Where does India stand in terms of trials and launch?

  • The government has said the auction of 5G spectrum would take place in March or April 2022. Some experts say it could be delayed by at least one quarter as telecom service providers are yet to complete their trials and test various aspects.
  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is in the final stages of stakeholder consultations, and is likely to submit its recommendations to the DoT early 2022.
  • Private Telecom companies have progressed at various levels regarding the rollout of 5G – like conducting trials, testing speeds and building indigenous 5G networks.


Why will some cities have 5G technology earlier?

  • Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jamnagar, Ahmadabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune, and Gandhi Nagar are amongst the first cities to get 5G services in 2022 as the three private telecom service providers, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm have been working with telecom equipment makers and conducting trials at test sites in these cities.
  • One of the reasons why the bigger cities were chosen for these trials is their telecom services penetration, making it easier to convince more people to upgrade from 4G.
  • Since the costs for 5G services are initially going to be on the higher side, it would be wise to test the service in areas where more consumers would find them affordable.
  • A third reason is that cities provide all kinds of locations, such as walled complexes and open spaces, that are suitable for testing of various 5G bands.

Are other countries and global companies ahead of India?

  • More than governments, global telecom companies have started building 5G networks and rolling them out to customers on a trial basis.
  • In the US, companies had started testing and deploying the technology as early as 2018.
  • In China, some telcos such as China Unicom had started 5G trials in 2018, and have since rolled out the commercial services for users.
  • South Korean company Samsung, which had started researching on 5G technology way back in 2011, has taken the lead when it comes to building the hardware for 5G networks for several companies.

5G Club plan to counter China

  • India and Australia are sharing experiences on protecting critical infrastructure, including 5G networks, said a senior Australian High Commission official while talking of the huge increase in cybersecurity cooperation between the two countries, however, clarifying that Australia has no intention of banning Chinese apps like India has done.
  • India and Australia have a close and ongoing dialogue and exchange a range of experiences, including what is being done regarding critical infrastructure and aspects, including our 5G network, and how to police the dark web.
  • In August 2018, Australia had banned Chinese companies from offering 5G services, citing national security.
  • India banned 59 Chinese apps citing national security and later banned 47 more Chinese apps.
  • Britain said that it was pushing the U.S. to form a club of 10 nations that could develop its own 5G technology and reduce dependence on Huawei.
  • Proposed D10 club of democratic partners includes G7 countries – UK, US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada – plus Australia, South Korea and India.
  • It will aim to create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China.
  • It can be seen as a means to ensure that these new entrants belong to like-minded democratic regimes, thus alleviating any security concerns.
  • This move will also allow more 5G equipment and technology providers to come up.
  • It basically addresses the raised concerns regarding potential surveillance and breach of their national security by China using the state-run Huawei.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023