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5G: How Indian operators can encash the opportunity

The transition from 4G to 5G will offer much faster and more reliable networks, which would form the backbone for the emerging era of Internet of Things (IoT). 5G is expected to disrupt not only the telecom sector but every sector of the economy that it serves

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The last few years have witnessed a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of the telecom industry in India. In recent years, data services have evolved to provide an enhanced end-user experience particularly in accessing rich media content. At the same time, voice services, led the business for many years have virtually been ignored while data services have assumed a prime role.

This situation has put pressure on Indian telcos. While the overall telecom sector is evolving at a fast pace, voice service offerings continue to reel under financial stress weighed down by competitive pricing, costly spectrum investment and high debt. The capital intensive sector has transformed from being a lucrative business to a cost bearing liability. India is currently the fastest growing telecom market with the third highest number of internet users in the world. The rise in mobile-phone penetration and decline in data costs will add even more new internet users in India, creating new opportunities for businesses as well as foster the adoption of further technology advancements.

One such emerging advancement is 5G that has already attracted the stakeholders’ attention. The transition from 4G to 5G will offer much faster and more reliable networks, which would form the backbone for the emerging era of Internet of Things (IoT). 5G is expected to disrupt not only the telecom sector but every sector of the economy that it serves. While 4G acted as a stepping stone, 5G will unlock the next level of connectivity. The influence of 5G in enabling disruptive changes across industries over technology proportion will immensely enhance the overall end consumer experience.

5G will not only enrich experiences for existing applications but also enable new IoT use cases. One such instance is of how IoT delivered over 5G platform can help disrupt the existing conventional manufacturing ecosystem. 5G networks offer the chance to build smart factories providing efficiency gains and reduced cost through IoT, robotics, automation, analytics, artificial intelligence, and digitization. 5G can also enhance real time data processing, analytics, real time tracking, automation with the help of connected tools, motion sensors and control of robots, factories, smart logistics system as well as simulation of factory processes and training support. Other likely scenario can be leveraging 5G-based Augmented Reality to detect operational inefficiencies such as imperfect maintenance planning and diagnostic failure.

Another area of relevance for 5G is related to the automotive sector. 5G supports enormous amount of bandwidth delivering high volumes of reliable connection with lower latency. It will enable automakers to enhance vehicle connectivity with V2X (vehicle to everything) communication, a new protocol for communication with other vehicles, pedestrians, networks and surrounding infrastructure. It will help improve traffic efficiency and reduce accident basis the communication between devices. A larger emphasis on in-vehicle “apps” and other forms of entertainment will emerge supported by a 5G network.

Furthermore, the technological transformation of the healthcare sector offers numerous opportunities to penetrate new value chains and initiate partnerships that benefit the entire ecosystem. 5G can enable the rise of patient centric applications used which can help monitor, alert and for consultation. It also helps generate digital health reports by recording and monitoring patient data. Telemetry and virtual reality can support in medical training and simulative sessions. Robotic surgery can be carried out using haptic feedback and high definition image streaming demanding low-latency and high throughput communication.

Education industry is another domain where use of 5G can help widen the outreach and quality of learning imparted. It can provide the possibility of having better availability of rich digital resources beyond the physical confines of the classroom and in the hands of learners. The use of virtual reality and augmented reality with tactile internet will play an important role in personalized understanding and experience based learning in the future. It will give students the opportunity to learn with minimal intervention mostly through exploration and discovery methodology.

Importantly while the licensed way of 5G appears well on course, Indian operators also have a latent opportunity to encash on the readily available 5G spectrum over the unlicensed band. This is particularly significant to drive further critical e-government initiatives of the government that aim to run over the Wi-Fi hotspot mode spread over 2.5 lakh villages. Thus, operators can drastically shrink the go-to-market time and explore newer avenues of business opportunities. The above are just few among many examples where 5G proposition of telecom industry can completely transform conventional sectors. The 5G wave is enabling possibilities way beyond the normal imagination and the future certainly appears exciting for the impacting industries!

Authored by Rajiv Kapoor, Vice President, Cambium Networks

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