- GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
5G: Roadblocks & Way Ahead
Context: Commercial 5G networks began to be deployed in 2020 and are expected to reach 12% of world mobile connections (1.1 billion) and generate revenues up to U.S.$1.3 trillion by 2025 for operators
Advantages of 5g:
- Improved data transfer speed
- Reduce latency time
- Will shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution by enabling Internet of Things
- Leads to more data-intensive, digital economy.
- India’s Telecom sector is under stress in recent times due to intense competition unleashed by Jio’s entry
- Moreover, the Supreme Court of India’s ruling on AGR dues estimated to be more than ₹90,000 crore has further exacerbated the financial condition of telecom companies.
- The number of telecom operators has come down to a handful from around 15 a few years back.
- In this scenario, the huge investment required in deployment of fibre cables for 5G may add to the worries of Telecom companies.
What Needs to be done?
- Identification of basic ingredients: The immediate priority for India will be in identifying end users and population to be covered, identification of cities for the 5G roll out, working out an investment model for 5G deployment.
- Creating a level-playing field through market mechanism such as facilitating, simulating, auctioning, ensuring competition, functioning markets, etc.
- Spectrum Roadmap: TRAI should prepare a foolproof spectrum road map with a predictable renewal process which will compensate the huge investment required for deployment and ensure coverage.
- Spectrum Sharing: Global trial runs show that the key areas for 5G deployment are harmonisation of 5G spectrum bands, pricing and sharing of the spectrum. In this light, sharing of available spectrum needs to be promoted.
- Government Financial Incentive: As the deployment of 5G network is expensive, both the Central and State governments need to consider measures which stimulate fibre investment, attract investment through PPPs and facilitate investment funds on a nominal interest basis.
- Allowing 100% foreign direct investment in the telecom sector under the automatic route along with these policy reforms augurs well for the sector to attract investment.
- Conscious of Digital Divide: The negative implication of 5G is furthering the ‘digital divide’. Therefore, Government policies should also focus on affordable coverage through synchronisation of bandwidth.
As India has already witnessed digital revolution even in its remotest areas due to cost-effective 4G technology, the use of 5G can play a vital role in enhancing this sector and also facilitating India’s goal to emerge as a manufacturing and innovation hub.
Connecting the dots:
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