The long wait of Indian customers for 5G telecommunication services could be over soon as Modi 2.0 is keen on fast-tracking their introduction in the country. Upgrading of India's telecommunication infrastructure to the next level is vital for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India programme in his second stint, according to officials.
The 5G technology is important for achieving the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) objective of digital inclusion, which is the pivot of the Digital India programme, according to Telecommunication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who retained his portfolio from the last government.
The 5G technology can ensure must faster data connections with download speeds reportedly hitting 1 gigabit per second when 4G's highest speed just about tops 1 megabit per second. All major telecom players including Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea are reportedly getting ready to join the 5G bandwagon. A single 5G antenna can reportedly support about 1 million users whereas a 4G antenna can hook up a maximum of 100,000 devices.
Prasad is also pushing for the spectrum auction to take place this year. The last auction of the spectrum had happened in 2016, reports say.
The government will also set up one lakh digital villages and also look to expedite domestic manufacturing of telecom equipment under Prime Minister Modi's Make in India programme, said Prasad, who is also in charge of the information technology ministry. "Five lakh wifi hotspots will be established on a priority basis. We will ensure that the hotspots reach areas that need digital inclusion," a report in Mint quoted Prasad as saying.
Trials of the 5G services will begin in the next 100 days, reports cited Prasad as saying after assuming charge on Monday. Prasad has in the past laid stress on extending quality telecom infrastructure into the rural areas. Digital inclusion means taking the benefits of the digital revolution that India is witnessing to the rural parts of the country. The 5G services will be used to bring vital services to the deprived sectors and for social causes, Prasad said. Major 5G equipment producers including Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, and Ericsson are expected to take part in the trials.
South Korea has pioneered the 5G technology's commercial use by introducing it in substantial areas from April 2019. South Korea's SK Telecom has 38,000 base stations, KT Corporation 30,000 and LG U Plus 18,000. About 85 per cent of the stations is deployed in six major cities including capital Seoul. The country has a target of luring 10 per cent of users to 5G by the end of the year. China is about to launch 5G in a big way and aims at having 40 per cent of all 5G users in the world by 2025. Japan plans to make a big splash with an extensive 5 G network by the 2020 Olympics. The US has a limited number of base stations in the cities of Chicago and Minneapolis. The UK has introduced services in some areas on an experimental basis.