Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director, Service Providers, Cisco India and SAARC

In the blink of an eye, the world realized how critical the Internet is to our daily lives. Video conferences replaced physical meetings, workspaces turned hybrid, online consultations became a household norm, and over 1.2 billion children began distance learning. Today India is at the cusp of a digital revolution propelled by increasing internet penetration and the government’s focus on digitizing critical services and sectors. Now put this accelerated digital transformation with 5G, and it will be a complete gamechanger. According to McKinsey, implementing faster connections in mobility, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail can increase global GDP by $1.2 – $2 trillion by 2030, and according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, this can have a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion on India by 2035.

5G will not just be about access to technology and more throughput, latency, and speed but about a new framework to cater to the evolving needs of consumers, small businesses, enterprises, and the government. In short, 5G will push us into a world of interconnected networks, devices, and applications.

5G, a true catalyst to India’s digital revolution

According to a Cisco report, by 2023, 5G will represent 10% of global mobile connections with even higher concentrations in key markets. Beyond mobile broadband, 5G will have an impact on segments such as smart cities, robotics, self-driving cars, healthcare, agriculture, and education.


The fourth industrial revolution brings together cyber and physical systems, automation, industrial IoT, and better integration. The network has a starring role in digital manufacturing, connecting people and applications in any location to factory-floor assets like sensors, actuators, cameras, and industrial automation and control systems (IACS).

Future-generation 5G networks will allow companies to leverage technologies like IoT, AI, AR/VR, and private LTE to support the revolution. Moreover, advanced predictive maintenance can enhance equipment availability, and remote maintenance will lead to lower operational costs. We need to bring logistics costs below 10% of GDP since digitization can unlock a value of $30Bn by 2025.

Smart Cities

Digitally enhancing our cities is a major step towards empowering India’s citizens and laying a robust knowledge economy foundation. Cities contribute about 63% of the GDP, which is expected to increase to 70% by 2030, according to a report by Invest India. 5G networks will support a wide range of use cases– from simple, smart water meters all the way to the autonomous EMS vehicle. Additionally, by utilizing 5G connectivity, IoT and data analytics innovations can provide critical information that will further help in crowd management, ensuring smarter governance – using technology and data resolutely to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life.


According to a Deloitte report, the medical device market envisions an increment to US$ 50 billion in 2025, which was at US$ 10.36 billion in 2020.  5G not only promises lower latency, which can improve the performance of critical care applications, but the dense, distributed-access architecture of 5G networks also has the potential to unlock data from IoT sensors and devices. Most importantly, mobile health and telemedicine will increase accessibility to quality healthcare even to the remotest of places.


According to a report by CLSA, the value of digital payments in India will grow three-fold to touch $1 trillion by the financial year 2026, as compared to $300 billion in the financial year 2021. Banks and financial institutions in the country have realized how digitization offers them new opportunities to expand their services for customers. With 5G networks, established financial institutions can not only offer the agility customers are looking for, but the higher speed also enables the services to be improved and enriched – the data exchange becomes faster, the data volumes larger. As more and more devices and IoT systems go online and data traffic goes up rapidly, 5G will help create a reliable, high-performance infrastructure to enable future network traffic.


The last two years forced an experiment that moved education to digital classrooms, propelling students to embrace online learning and new learning models. However, affordable access to higher education and intermittent internet connection in remote areas remains a concern, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this digital divide. With 5G, high-quality interactive virtual classrooms and content can be streamed all over the country from anywhere, bridging the gap between rural and urban India and building a more equitable future for all.


A NASSCOM study found that India suffers 40% post-harvest loss, and Indian farmers have one of the lowest income growth rates globally at 3.4%. Against this backdrop, technology can act as a great enabler in removing the major roadblocks in Indian agriculture. As connectivity evolves and 5G becomes commonplace, bringing lower latency, higher bandwidth, and faster speeds, the use cases they create, especially across sensors, IoT, analytics, etc., will revolutionize farming – giving rise to smart farming and precision agriculture.

5G creates new avenues for future growth

If 4G was about speeds & feeds, 5G will be about creating experiences – opening up a world of opportunities for telecom service providers. 5G can put us on the path to connect the next billion users and fundamentally change the economics of the Internet so that it works for everyone. It will act as the ultimate flattener of the digital divide and an enabler for society to level the playing field and power an inclusive future for all.

However, few use cases will only be enabled as the networks expand and the technology components mature; hence, fostering innovation and collaboration to accelerate 5G deployment is crucial. To be ahead of the road to a profitable mobile network, organizations need to scale their innovation in cloud-based packet core, seamless business-to-service provider network connections, automation advances, and trusted secure infrastructure. Lastly, regulators, industry bodies, network operators, service providers must come together to address the challenges facing widespread 5G adoption worldwide and maximize the opportunities it will bring across sectors. After all, 5G and advanced technologies will propel India to transform and move into the future as a tech-enabled global power.