India’s digital economy needs smart, robust and affordable systems that can support the data requirements of the 5G ecosystem.
By Nivruti Rai
India is riding the Industry 4.0 wave and the biggest driver of the nation’s digitalisation aspirations is network transformation. Network transformation lies at the confluence of new-age technologies—5G, AI, intelligent edge and the Internet of Things (IoT) – that have redefined the requirements of the data-driven network infrastructure.
As India prepares to shift from 3G/4G to 5G, it’s worthwhile to note that connectivity and network capabilities bear a significant influence on the GDP. Studies indicate that a 10% increase in mobile broadband adoption results in a 0.6–2.8% increase in economic growth.
The next round of disruption is being sparked by AI, deep learning and edge computing. Machine-to-machine communications will fuel data explosion that needs 5G data framework to manage and monitor the exabytes and zettabytes of data generated by billions of connected devices. With more than 20 billion devices estimated to be connected by IoT by 2020, and close to two billion IoT connections in India by 2022, this is the right time for communication service providers (CoSPs) in India to start working towards 5G preparedness.
The 5G framework is highly data- and computing-intensive and relies to a large extent on cloud computing and virtualisation. Many CoSPs have started to explore Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) for transforming their network architecture that uses IT virtualisation to advance the entire network node functions to create new communication services. NFV will serve as a foundation and gradually “mature” through further deployments such as cloud-based Virtual Radio Area Network (VRAN), Network Slicing, and Multi-Access Edge (MEC) Computing. MEC is crucial as it connects the power of 5G to the point of service and value delivery.
India’s digital economy needs smart, robust and affordable systems that can support the data requirements of the 5G ecosystem. In India, this new frontier in computing capability will be driven by an ecosystem of open source innovation. Disruption will be generated through partnerships between India’s innovators and developers, anchored by advances in academic and research labs.
In India, the biggest opportunities are in vital segments such as transportation, healthcare, agriculture and smart cities. Connectivity between vehicles through sensors, video analytics and image recognition can enable vehicles to ‘talk’ to each other at the speed of light. 5G-led IoT architectures will enable smart cities by improving road and public safety, traffic management, energy conservation and waste disposal using smart technologies in cameras, vehicles, street lights, parking meters, pollution sensors and trash cans. In the field of healthcare, 5G and AI-powered smart ambulances will help save lives as paramedics would be able to access large patient files and video conference with nearby emergency rooms. Patients can take advantage of robotic surgical techniques with faster recovery time compared to conventional treatments.
5G will go down in history as the enabler for distributed computing – making compute available where data is created. And AI at the edge is expected to be the pivot of innovation over the next decade. As the transformed network attains maturity, these technologies could herald a fresh spate of innovations and advancements across industries, triggering a win-win for all. This is an incredible opportunity for India’s academia, industry and innovators to come together to craft the India 4.0 story.
The writer is country head – Intel India and VP Data Centre Group – Intel Corp