India can’t afford to miss 5G bus: Telecom Minister

India can’t afford to miss 5G bus: Telecom Minister

The upcoming 5G technology offers India a chance to move to the forefront of technological evolution and the country cannot afford to miss its early...

New Delhi: The upcoming 5G technology offers India a chance to move to the forefront of technological evolution and the country cannot afford to miss its early adoption, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said on Tuesday.

"I never tire of repeating that we may have missed the 3G and 4G buses but 5G is a bus we can't afford to miss. It is an opportunity for us as a country to move from the back benches and be at the vanguard of this evolving transition," Sinha said after inaugurating first 5G test lab in the country.

The 5G centre of excellence and innovation lab has been set up by Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson in partnership with IIT Delhi. The government has allocated 100 megahertz of spectrum to the lab for testing of 5G solutions. Sinha said setting up of first 5G test lab in the country is in line with government's vision to move India to forefront on the global stage in this technology.

He said India's telecom footprint has expanded immensely in last four years with addition of 266 million mobile connections, nearly 190 million internet connections, increase in overall tele-density from 75 per cent in June 2014 to 93 per cent in March 2018. "Our average per capita data usage has multiplied many folds from 62 megabytes to 1.6 gigabyte per month during the same period.

Today we are the biggest consumers of mobile data globally. If we put this number in perspective then it is more than consumption of USA and Peoples Republic of China combined," Sinha said. He said that government has increased spend on telecom infrastructure and services by six-fold from Rs 9,900 crore between 2009-14 to Rs 66,000 crore between 2014-18.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman R S Sharma said India should use 5G technology to resolve problems that are specific to India instead of just emulating technical solutions of Western world.

"Whatever (5G) solution we come up with should be modular and plug and play enabled. Inter-operability, open standards and open APIs (software links for connecting applications) are extremely important for this," Sharma said.

Ericsson President and CEO Borje Ekholm said that setting up of 5G centre of excellence and test lab is a next step of the company following live demonstration of 5G in India in December 2017.

He said that first commercial rollout of 5G is expected to take place this year which will lead to increase broadband speed on mobile phones and after that industrial use cases will come with higher speed. "We believe that 1st business case for 5G will be enhanced mobile broadband and actually that's why India will be a front runner in 5G adoption. As a matter of fact, India is already leading if you look at consumption of data per subscriber," Ekholm said.

He said that data consumption in India is actually 5-10 times higher than many of the European countries. "5G will be critical to make cost come down. When you have evolved a network from basic 4G site to combined 4G and 5G network, cost can come down or efficiency can go up by factor of 10. 5G will be critical to decongest to networks," he said. Ekholm said that access of spectrum is very critical for 5G and without spectrum there will be no 5G.

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