Most Indians have witnessed the towns and cities they lived in as children change into something utterly unrecognizable as they became adults. This has been due to changes in the economy driven by technology and better systems.
5G deployment is now predicted to change things even more, widely being seen as the “fourth industrial revolution of our era.”
5G services are set to increase global economic output by $12.3 billion by 2035 and become the next biggest driver of the global economy.
And on August 1, 2022, India finally closed its 5G spectrum auction with a resounding success.
The 5G Auction
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, finally concluded the Department of Telecommunications 5G spectrum auction, with Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea being the clear winners.
Reliance Jio was the top bidder with an offer of INR 880.78 billion for 24.740 GHz worth of waves across the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1800 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz bands.
Airtel and Vodafone Idea came in second and third place, each offering INR 430.84 billion and INR 187 billion in investments for 19.867 GHz and 6.228 GHz, respectively.
In addition, the Central Government is said to be in talks to develop captive non-public networks and private captive networks to further spur innovation and growth. These 5G projects are aimed at the sectors of machine communications, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, healthcare, automotive, agriculture, energy, and other miscellaneous sectors.
What This Means
The recent pandemic strained our economy to its limits, forcing massive shifts such as remote work and remote schooling onto the people of India.
This led to a sharp rise in the demand for internet connectivity and acted as a strong catalyst for bringing large portions of India online for the first time ever.
The Indo-Asian News Service reported that in 2021, nearly 61% of all Indians were online, in stark contrast to a few years before the pandemic, when just 21% of Indians had access to the internet in 2017.
While IT businesses were quickly able to address the increased demands due to already having the necessary infrastructure, the transition wasn’t as smooth for other industries. Of course, Tier-I cities were already prepared, but what about Tier-II and Tier-III cities? It’s estimated that there are 61,000 recognized startups in India, with nearly 45% sitting in Tier-II and Tier-II cities. The growth of India depends on the improved infrastructure of the smaller cities as well.
One of the problems lies in the fact that 4G LTE technology is only capable of utilizing lower frequency bands. This means operating only up to 6 GHz, which considerably limits the available capacity.
Compare this with 5G infrastructure, which is capable of handling higher frequencies ranging from 30 GHz to 300 GHz.
Most importantly, these radio frequencies won’t be as crowded as your current 3G and 4G networks are. This means a whole new spectrum of empty bandwidth that will not clash with lower frequencies.
Slow internet speeds, caused partly by too many people accessing the internet, have caused a new form of stress in the economy that 5G coverage is perfectly positioned to resolve.
Online banking and payment apps worked perfectly well with 4G, but 5G technology implementation should result in even less time and money lost due to failed and botched transactions across India.
One of the biggest draws of 5G in Asia was undoubtedly due to the fact that it is capable of reaching speeds up to 20GB per second, while with 4G, you could only achieve top speeds of 1GB per second.
Early tests show that 5G speed in India is 16.5 times faster than 4G on average, with superior anti-fraud security in place to further help businesses depending on 5G monetization.
The 5G Disruption
5G applications are all about better connectivity, lower latencies, more accessibility, and increased speeds. It was designed with security in mind after witnessing all of the problems faced by 4G connections.
Especially in rural areas where rural connectivity stands as an obstacle to monetization practices. It features better subscriber identity protection, mutual authentication capabilities, and mandated encryption between all inter- and intra-network traffic.
5G in India launches with improved security standards that were common across all online banking platforms before, but these same security protocols are now accessible to non-banking connections as well.
This should allow for increased confidence across the many industries that are catalyzing the work-from-home demand. As security has gone up, prices have reduced in the last decade as well. Ten years ago, 1 GB of data would have cost the average consumer INR 300. In 2022, the same 1 GB, thanks to advances in the industry, will cost only INR 10.
Speed tests conducted across networks in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Varanasi found that speeds were much higher than expected, exceeding 800 Mbps, and any fluctuations are expected to stabilize as networks finish calibrating. Before the launch of 5G, India ranked 117 in the world for mobile download speeds, and things are only expected to improve with greater coverage.
This brings us to our next topic.
Cities Currently Covered by 5G
Currently, Jio 5G services are spread across the following regions:
Airtel 5G services are available across
Reliance 5G services are currently available in:
Projections estimate 5G mobile subscriptions will rise to 53.5% as early as 2028, from the meager 2.7% they were in 2022.
A Final Note On Speed
Users should be able to experience speeds of at least 242.1 Mbps on average in any of these 5G networks compared to the 14.7 Mbps on existing 4G networks in 2022.
And if you’re near a 5G cell tower, you’re in luck. Experts say that while offices and homes can comfortably achieve the above speeds, those within a 1-kilometer radius of a 5G tower should report even higher speeds. Speeds can increase by up to 1 Gbps the closer you are to the tower. And since 5G latency is estimated to be between 200 to 250 milliseconds at most, this should allow for fantastic connectivity for devices in crowded areas that make use of the Internet of Things as well.
A major problem with 4G is that its download speeds were disproportionate with upload speeds simply because operators designed their systems to allow higher priority for downloading because that featured the majority of their consumer bases. 5G is planned to play a bigger role in the use of devices in health care and manufacturing and is designed with more emphasis placed on upload speeds for streaming data as well.
This should be exciting to regular consumers, who can now enjoy better multiplayer gaming experiences than ever before. Since there are an estimated 420 million online gamers across India, 5G is also expected to improve gaming, live streaming, and real-time gaming.
This is particularly helpful for businesses looking to bring augmented reality and virtual reality applications to India, with applications that depend on high-speed cloud services that demand low latencies. It should also help convince high-end AAA companies to focus on the Indian market for the first time in history.