Ruchin Kumar, Vice President – South Asia, Futurex

Going hand in hand with India’s efforts to strengthen its technological infrastructure, the government has announced plans for full 5G coverage across India before 2025. 5G is widely considered to be the next big step in network technology. It is expected to bring higher bandwidth, lower latency and better wireless connectivity in general. This is true both on an individual as well as an enterprise level. As telcos deploy more network infrastructure for wireless customers, and as enterprises establish private 5G networks to boost operations, society, overall, will start to see the benefits of 5G.

Multiple industry analysts have predicted that, given the current rate of de­p­loyment, it is reasonable to expect about a quarter of the world’s population to have access to the technology within the next several years. Given India’s current rate of progress, we may expect it to be a global leader along with other Asian countries and North America.

5G infrastructure

5G implementation will provide many benefits, but the process of installing new infrastructure and replacing legacy 4G infrastructure will not be cheap – nor will it happen overnight. That is not to say that 5G cannot be deployed using existing infrastructure, or that all 4G infrastructure must go. However, telcos will likely need to take measures such as deploying more fibre optic cables to handle the massive amounts of data flowing through 5G networks. This process is called fiberisation. Telcos are also planning to launch services in select cities according to regular schedules, and to figure out their pricing structures for consumers. There will be other challenges to address with consumers too, such as filling coverage gaps using small cell access points. While small cell technology is not totally new, it is expected to play a crucial role in extending the reach of 5G networks and bringing coverage to more people.

Industry use cases

We have talked about the consumer side of 5G, but its applications for industry are no less important. Internet of things (IoT) stands to benefit greatly from the im­p­roved connectivity brought by 5G. 5G services are expected to enable high capacities and low latency, allowing large IoT networks to handle more data traffic with minimal delays in responsiveness. This will also help manufacturing operations, where 5G may optimise manufacturing by enabling real-time monitoring of equipment and processes. 5G stands to improve remote healthcare services as well, with better remote patient monitoring and more reliable transmission of medical data. Consider also the potential benefits of 5G technology when applied to agriculture. 5G can enable growers to monitor crops, soil conditions and other environmental factors in real time through the deployment of IoT solutions. These are just a few examples of how 5G could transform various sectors. The high speed, low latency and massive connectivity capabilities of 5G could very well unlock new opportunities and innovations.

Policies and regulations

In terms of wide-scale deployment, 5G in India is subject to various regulatory and legal considerations. For example, the go­vernment has set up a framework to allocate 5G spectrum and has conducted auctions to ensure fair distribution among telecom operators. The Indian Telecom Security Assurance Requirements articulated by the Department of Telecommuni­cations provide a framework for securing mobile device and network communications. Additionally, the IT Act, 2000 (and its 2008 amendment) requires public key infrastructure (PKI) to be implemented to authenticate identity and protect the integrity of messages. Wherever the need for PKI arises, so too does the need for a scalable hardware security module solution to process encryption tasks and secure encryption keys. The government has also launched the National Digital Communi­cations Policy, which emphasises the importance of 5G and aims to attract investments in the sector. Further­more, collaborations with industry stakeholders, academia and international organisations have been fostered to promote research and development in 5G technology.

Overall, India is actively working on the regulatory, legal and policy aspects to en­sure the smooth and secure roll-out of 5G. The focus on privacy, security and data protection, coupled with government initiatives and partnerships, demonstrates a commitment to creating an enabling environment for 5G adoption in the country.