Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Is India really ready for the 5G rollout?


5G technology has been making headlines for quite some time. India, having one of the largest user bases for mobile and internet, could be another revolutionary step for the country’s telecommunication sector. But, is India ready for the 5G rollout?

Since the day mobile phones or cellular phones, however you call these have come into existence have practically revolutionised how the world works, or rather say communicates. These devices have made human to human communication a lot easier over time and people can practically save hours because it just takes seconds to receive and deliver messages between two parties.

However, mobile phones are absolutely incomplete and dysfunctional, at least communication-wise, without a small chip that connects the palm-held device to the worldwide telecommunication network. That’s what we call SIM cards.

The SIM cards have seen quite an evolution since their discovery back in 1991 in Munich. SIM basically stands for ‘Subscriber Identity Module’, each one unique from the others and giving the device it is connected to a unique identity in the global telecommunication network. SIM cards can be differentiated by their network capacity which is denoted by G.

GenerationRolloutStandardsTechnologyBandwidthData Speed
1GEarly 80’sAMPS, TACSAnalogNANA
2G1991GSM, GPRS, EDGEGSM25 MHz80-100 kbps
4G2009LTE, LTE AdvancedLTE, WiMAX100 MHz100 mbps
5G2018OFDM, BDMAMIMO, mm Waves30-300 MHz20 Gbps

Hitting G-spot first time

G, as in, 4G, stands for Generation. The first generation SIM cards, with 1G cellular network capacity was developed by Nippon Telephone and Telegraph. 2G SIM cards were first deployed in Finland in December 1991. By the mid-2010s, 2G technology became the global standard for mobile communications, achieving 90% market share in over 193 countries and territories across the world.

3G in third gear

In October 2009, the launch of 3G technology took place. In some instances, 3G networks do not use the same radio frequencies as 2G, so mobile operators had to build entirely new networks and licenses, based on completely new frequencies to achieve faster data transmission rates.

The rollout of 3G networks was delayed in some countries by enormous costs of additional spectrum licensing fees. The 3G standard is perhaps well known because of helping in the massive expansion of the mobile communications market in the post-2G era and advancement of the consumer mobile phones as well.

5G timeline

4G fulcrum

The 4G technology that we currently use is the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology, succeeding 3G, and preceding the 5G era. The 4G technology must provide the capabilities that are defined by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced (IMT Advanced). Potential and current applications of the 4G technology include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and 3D television as well.

1GVoice calls
2GVoice calls, SMS
3GVideo conference, Mobile TV, GPS
4GHigh speed, Mobile TV, Wearable device
5GHD streaming, Remote control vehicle, Robot, Medical procedure, IoT

We want more, more and more

Truly, technology and innovation have no barrier. Since the world tasted 4G, we started craving for more, in terms of faster connectivity, more bandwidth etc. Hence, the desire for 5G technology.

While the global technology industry was already working on 5G rollout the lockdowns around the world accelerated the demand for this, as the humongous surge in data consumption during the lockdowns led to painstakingly slow internet and telecommunication services.

With the world population locked inside the four walls the demand for data consumption increased manifolds. People started playing games, take their businesses into the digital sphere, taking online classes and more at a greater margin. Therefore the masses across the length and breadth of the world needed stronger network connectivity and faster internet speeds for smooth working of all the aforementioned data driven functions. We did have 4G at our disposal at that time, but with the fast paced world we needed a faster internet connectivity system. So 5G was brought about in the international market.

Enter the 5G

5G is the 5th generation mobile network technology. It is a new global wireless standard after the 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks the world has experienced in last few decades. 5G enables a new kind of telecommunication network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices. To put it simply, it will create Internet of Things (IoT) in a greater and more efficient manner.

5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps (gigabit per second), peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased bandwidth availability, superior stability and a more uniform user experience to a greater number of users. Higher performance and improved efficiency is expected to empower new user experiences and connect new industries.

5G and global economy

A landmark economic study, conducted by the global chipmaker giant QUALCOMM, has suggested that the global effect of 5G telephony will be observed not until 2035. It will enable goods and services worth almost $13.2 trillion worldwide. The same study also states that the 5G value chain alone can create up to 22.3 million jobs, or in other words, more than one job per person in Beijing, China.

5G Phone

5G in India

India’s digital journey has been one of the exemplary ones. The country had the world’s second-largest internet population at over 483 million users in 2018. Among that 390.9 million users accessed internet from their mobile phones. In the year 2019, the mobile internet using population in India grew to 420.7 million. The number was around 448.2 million in 2020 and expected to surge to more than 469.3 million in 2021, from 242.92 million in 2015.

This rapid growth story has been accelerated by several factors including the surge in digitalisation, increased affordability of smartphones and mobile data, 4G connectivity rollout, arrival of Jio, growth in young population and lastly the impact of Coronavirus pandemic.

India had actually planned to implement the 5G technology back in 2018. This move actually sought to capitalise on the strength of this network and its better speeds. But the biggest hurdle that this upgrade has been facing is the lack of adequate cash flow from two of the three major telecom players of India, namely – Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea that had a user base of more than 309 million and 292.84 million respectively in 2020.

Apart from that, the 5G network roll out pace in India has been also impacted by factors like the Huawei controversy, Coronavirus crisis as well.

While Bharati Airtel and Vodafone Idea, the two major players in the Indian telecommunication space, have been fumbling with the 5G technology roll out process, a relatively new entrant in the Indian telecommunications sphere, Jio, is planning to launch its own indigenously built 5G network by later 2021. The Mukesh Ambani led firm that have came up as a major disruptor in the Indian telecom space, claims to have found the solution to end-to-end network cooked by the company itself and they also said that they can deploy this technology once the networks are in place.

But the saddening part of this entire 5G saga is that our government is still mulling over the implementation of this network type while countries such as the USA, South Korea, and China have already raced far ahead than just trials. There are almost 135 active 5G services in 53 countries across Europe, Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.


According to us, the technology at hands that telecom brands have in India at present is absolutely good enough for the application of 5G network systems. While Jio is claiming that his company is ready to implement its indigenous 5G system, this company might get the chance of a free hand to contribute to the development of the networking systems in India.

This could lead to a massive boost to the overall development of our country at large and help in increasing its GDP and also provide more employment as well. The current government and its telecom department should stop mulling and get to work, pan-India, to put forward 5G network and all its advantages for the people to use.

Also Read: WhatsApp suddenly made data privacy a mainstream topic in 2021


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