The next season’s IPL 5G telecast on OTT will have multiple video streaming via ultra-high definition, different camera angles, and an immersive real-life personalised experience to watch a match with online friends.
From 100 times the speed and 1,000 times the capacity of the current day mobile networks, reduced energy use under a single network to provide a variety of heterogeneous services like AI, extended reality (XR), edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G network will not only disrupt OTT viewing, but will bring a digital transformation and network virtualisation across sectors. How? Hospitals will have 5G-enabled tracking of medical devices and patient beds to trigger actions automatically and accelerate patient handovers, remote robot-assisted surgery, advanced digital wallets, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, smart homes, appliances for better connected lifestyle, and more.
Clearly, the next-gen mobile and data connectivity echoes the promise throughout the business world for faster speed, lower latency and connecting higher numbers of devices.
5G opens up possibilities for industry and businesses to quantify the technology’s potential impact in economic terms. More than 80% of the economic potential lies in healthcare applications (projected to contribute $530 bn to global GDP), smart utilities management (an additional $330 bn), and consumer and media applications ($254 bn more), says ‘The Global Economic Impact Of 5G Report 2020-21’ by PwC.
The technology will boost global GDP with a total impact of ~$ 1.3 trillion; India alone will be impacted with $42 bn by 2030, the report states.
“The Internet today represents a far more economically valuable aspect of our lives than it was 10 years ago. Around 1.2 billion Indians are going to be using the Internet in the next two years through 5G and BharatNet,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for information technology and skill development and entrepreneurship, at a recent Idea Exchange by the Indian Express.
Mobile phones will become the common integrating factor, said Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw at an event. “The government is investing $30 bn in 4G, 5G and a robust digital infrastructure in rural India to ensure last-mile network accessibility for 4G and 5G in every village across the country and build a robust digital infrastructure in the rural areas,” he added.
Ericsson’s report on the ‘Promise of 5G’ in India carried out by Ericsson ConsumerLab reveals that consumer 5G readiness is high in India. Intention to upgrade to 5G in urban India is two times higher than their counterparts in markets like the UK and US where 5G has already been launched. Over the past two years, India has witnessed a three times increase in smartphone users who own a 5G handset. 5G network superiority could emerge as a driver for consumer loyalty with 59% of smartphone users intending to upgrade to 5G in the first 12 months. Within those who plan to upgrade to 5G, 36% plan to churn to the best provider of 5G.
5G is definitely a disruptive next generation wireless network, and its implementation will affect industry’s prominent sectors in services and offerings. Here we see how different sectors will embrace the technology.
Telecom & mobile
Data acceleration with use of smartphones and new tariff plans could result in higher average revenue per user. However, telecom operators Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel plan to upgrade users of certain tariff plans to 5G without the change of SIM card initially.
Besides dramatically higher speeds, 5G will deliver anywhere between 20 and 30 times the speed one gets today. This will allow booting up an application or downloading a heavy file in no time. For instance, Airtel 5G will enable differential quality for special requirements with network slicing. “If you are a gamer, and want a flawless experience, we will be able to slice the network for you. We have strengthened the expertise of engineers, built state-of-the-art tools and conducted numerous first-of-its-kind trials across several cities and use cases to ensure that the Airtel 5G experience is incomparable,” Gopal Vittal, CEO, Airtel, said in a statement.
Esri India Technologies, an end-to-end geographic information systems (GIS) solutions provider, serves as the backbone technology in planning the new network designs, suitable for delivering the next-generation customer experiences. Both 5G and GIS would complement one another. “To handle the agility and low latency demands of a 5G network, telecom companies, and enterprises will heavily rely on GIS technology. With Esri ArcGIS Utility Network, a geospatial infrastructure will play a vital role in helping telecom service providers in designing and managing their networks, assets and operations in an integrated fashion, and be agile to grow as their business requirements change,” says Agendra Kumar, MD, Esri India.
5G has the potential to address the issue of the digital divide by improving public infrastructure and creating intelligent and hyperconnected communities.
“Data analytics, AI and ML will penetrate new market segments and enable enterprises to make better, data-driven decisions,” says Manish Vyas, president, communications, media and entertainment business, and CEO, network services, Tech Mahindra, technology services and consulting company, adding, “Over the next few years, 5G is anticipated to become the standard for mobile communications technology, ushering in a new era of connectivity, speed, and possibility. At Tech Mahindra, the 5G playbook is at two levels. What we do for the networks and what we do with the networks. On networks per se, we have seen rapid progress in software defined and cloud-native networks, adoption of dis-aggregated networks, virtualised radio access network (vRAN), ML/AI (machine learning/artificial intelligence) based automation. Our enterprise programme is propelled by our 5G4E (5G for enterprise) initiative,” he says.
In the smartphone categories, Mukesh Ambani’s Jio plans to collaborate with Google to launch a 5G phone, which will be ‘ultra affordable’.
Mobile phone major Nokia is working with Indian communication service providers on a network-ready 5G. “Industrial grade private wireless solutions enabled can digitally transform and modernise manufacturing facilities. We are manufacturing 5G equipment in India at the Chennai factory while our global delivery centres in Noida and Chennai are managing 5G deployments for several global markets,” says Amit Marwah, head of marketing and corporate affairs, Nokia India.
In the previous quarter (April-June), the 5G smartphone shipment share reached 29% of overall shipments, which was the highest ever, as per a Counterpoint Research report. The latest Redseer Strategy Consultants’ reports say e-commerce platforms clocked a sale of Rs 24,500 crore for the first four days. Close to 1,100 mobile phones were sold each minute, with a total of ~Rs 11,000 crore worth of mobiles sold on large e-commerce players. Premium phones (iPhone 12 and 13, OnePlus) drove mobile sales.
Gaming & metaverse
Gaming industry is one of the most important testing grounds for telecom service providers. With XR changing the gaming experience where players enter the live environment, there is an immense degree of gaming control for players. Like Pokémon Go 5G AR experience games will change with speed and bandwidth, multiplayer interaction and fast track locations across devices after 5G.
Lokesh Suji, director, Esports Federation of India and VP of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF), says gamers will get a competitive edge to catapult the billion-dollar industry of esports. “Traditionally, we need to download the games but with 5G, players can enjoy the games on the cloud without compromising their experience. This will allow users to save space on mobile devices, PC and consoles,” he says.
Online gaming in India is estimated to be a $5 billion industry by 2025 and implementation of the 5G network will work as a catalyst in achieving this target.
“Gamers can have easy access to newer and unique experiences like AR and VR. Faster Internet speed and reliable connection will encourage game developers, designers, and storytellers to work on grander, complex stories. This freedom will result in quality content with time,” says Vishwalok Nath, director, Esports Premier League (ePL), a gaming tournament.
If Internet penetration and accessibility are the backbones of esports and mobile gaming, the last thing a gamer wants is lag. “We want to say goodbye to lagging issues. The metaverse, and social experience can elevate the experience, an important reason why gaming has become so popular in the last few years,” says esports athlete Animesh Agarwal, founder and CEO at 8bit Creatives, a gaming talent management agency.
Metaverse is no exception in redefining entertainment and commerce. “The landscape will now change with more capabilities surrounding design, richer immersive experience, meta-commerce and newer web 3 business models,” says Manasa Rajan, CEO, Jupiter Meta, an integrated Web 3.0 entity and a curated NFT marketplace.
In fact, gaming will benefit other industries in terms of super-fast speeds. “The online gaming industry has always been an early adopter of new technologies, and with 5G, it should be no different. It would enable precise location determination, which, in turn, can help various sectors to offer more personalized content to end users,” says Neha Gupta, VP, engineering, Gameskraft, an online skill-based gaming and entertainment company.
Mayhem Studios, a subsidiary of Mobile Premier League (MPL), announced its first title ‘Underworld Gang Wars’, a battle royale game set in India. Its ultra low-latency will significantly boost smooth mobile gaming and experience. “Gamers on battle royale or multiplayer games can respond to other gamers in a few milliseconds in safe and transparent gaming for a lag-free experience,” says Ojas Vipat, CEO of Mayhem Studios.
Home, auto, healthcare and education
Homes with cloud connectivity across all smart gadgets, appliances, and cars will have real time data transfer, easy over the air updates of software and applications through cloud communication. Automated smart TVs can be connected to smart lighting systems of the house and controlled remotely.
IoT will be driving the next round of transformation in the digital world. Panasonic Life Solutions India forayed into Connected Living Solutions with the launch of its IoT and AI enabled platform Miraie with connected gadgets, giving consumers a full range of connected living solutions for a futuristic home. Manish Misra, chief innovation officer, Panasonic Life Solutions India, says, “IoT and Industrial Internet of Things are a couple of areas that 5G technology has the huge potential to significantly impact. High-speed connectivity will enhance the customer experience by enabling IoT-enabled appliances such as ACs, washing machines, refrigerators, and smart fans to communicate and transfer data in real-time at a faster speed.”
According to a Counterpoint Research study, the shipments of 5G AIoT-supported modules will grow at a CAGR of 84% between 2022 and 2030. Further, 60% of 5G IoT modules will have AI capability by 2030 for better processing and real-time decision-making.
5g will be a key enabler in telematics in the automobile sector. Low latency and robust connectivity will give the car both reflex-like responsiveness, and intelligent insights to secure the ride, elevate driver assistance systems, avoid driver drowsiness, or even faster speed can enable data sent in real-time to other vehicles, says Som Kapoor, automotive partner, EY. “The enhanced in-car entertainment or cars connected to phones or houses are a few areas which will be a game changer for social connection,” he adds.
Automakers will likely look to mobile-network service providers for further investments in network performance to achieve higher service quality, increased predictability, lower latency, and bandwidth, says Nitesh Gupta, partner, McKinsey & Company. “Shared mobility will imply that one vehicle will have multiple users. Successful shared mobility business models will need sophisticated route-optimisation solutions that have real-time updates based on traffic conditions and congestion patterns,” he adds.
Improved speed, signal and reliability involving enhanced network architecture and mobile technology will be advanced car features. “Connectivity offers cars to be proactive in taking advantage of traffic infrastructure in situations of irregular traffic or understanding signals. The modulation of the speed is dependent on the availability of quicker signals. 5G will enable this at a speed that current connections do not offer,” adds Shubhendra Anand, head- chemicals, materials & energy practice, MarketResearchFuture.com
Hospitals can have 5G-enabled tracking of medical devices and patient beds which will trigger actions automatically and accelerate patient handovers. Technology virtually transports doctors to the ambulance to provide critical care en route to the hospital. A collaborative demo by Airtel, Apollo Hospitals, and Cisco in Bengaluru this year is one such example of custom-designed state-of-the-art 5G connected ambulance equipped with medical equipment, patient monitoring applications, and telemetry devices that transmit the patient health data to the hospital in real-time. It is equipped with onboard cameras, camera-based headgear, and body cams for paramedic staff -– all connected to the 5G network. Dr Sangita Reddy, JMD, Apollo Hospitals Group, says, “Our connected ambulances reduce mortality and utilise the Golden Hour to the benefit of patients. Studies indicate that pre-hospital time management should become a management objective. These insights propelled us to collaborate on the project.”
Schooling at primary and secondary levels in remote/rural areas will see drastic improvement with better connectivity as it would allow rapid interactivity and connectivity with multiple devices. Pranav Srivastava, partner, Phoenix Legal law firm, says, “Students from different backgrounds (urban, remote, rural areas) would be able to participate in classes in real-time. Agriculture can have the entire value-chain, from precision farming, smart irrigation, improved soil and crop monitoring, to livestock management. In the energy sector, smart grids’ and smart metering’ can be supported. With the rise of renewable and storage technologies, low latency communications will be critical to manage these grids.”
From AR shopping, virtual meetings, social camera filters, and an array of brand and enterprise experiments in VR could converge toward a metaverse. On the other hand, entertainment, music and OTT video will have innovative and collaborative use of data. Streaming recorded VR music performances could replace concerts/ festivals in multimedia entertainment.
E Commerce giant Flipkart is exploring a shopping ecosystem in the metaverse called the ‘Flipkart Metaverse’. With 5G and Web3.0, the virtual space will enable 100x faster shopping experience, allowing buyers to shop, select apparel, and footwear as digital avatars.
Content streaming will deliver new digital experiences like interactive content, content driving commerce or newer technologies like blockchain based video ecosystem. “The adoption of newer technologies such as Mzaalo, a blockchain-based video ecosystem and in-built rewards system, can democratise content access, help reward based premium programming, build a strong partnership ecosystem, and robust technology infrastructure,” says Vikram Tanna, COO of Xfinite Global, blockchain-based entertainment platform which owns the gamified video streaming service Mzaalo. Blockchain helps the creators and the audience encrypt their videos and store those videos permanently. Xfinite Global comes under the umbrella brand of motion picture production and distribution company Eros International.
TV, for instance, will be an immersive experience too. “Viewers will have the option to watch content, get rewarded, shop products while watching on the show or get information on the items showcased in shows or films, interact and decide the outcome of the content piece,” adds Tanna.
The adoption of 5G will have huge implications on India’s growing digital economy, as well as its booming advertising and entertainment industry, which is expected to reach Rs 4,30,401 crore by 2026 at 8.8% CAGR, as reported by PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2022-2026.
5G means obvious improvements— like better sound quality for streaming and creating music from any location with improved bandwidth and introducing more streams of monetisation for artistes on Airtel’s Wynk Studio, a music distribution ecosystem for independent artists, which is part of music and podcast streaming app Wynk. “This could be the next phase in an artists’ economy,” says Adarsh Nair, CEO, Airtel Digital.
Similarly, short-form video platforms such as Moj have enabled creators to drive a new wave of user-generated content from mobiles. “Creators and users are empowered with ‘zero delays’ social user experiences at high traffic density. 5G will drive immersive video creation and real-time Interactivity, future trends such as social interactions in AR,” says Amit Zunjarwad, chief product officer, ShareChat and Moj content-based social platforms.
This year, Bharti Airtel showcased 5G’s high-speed, low latency capabilities and recreated the in-stadia experience of cricketer Kapil Dev’s famous 175 not out vs Zimbabwe during the 1983 Cricket World Cup. A special 175 replayed video, in 4K mode, brought key moments from the match to life. With speeds of over 1 Gbps (GigaBytes per second) and latency of under 20 milliseconds, more than 50 concurrent users enjoyed a highly personalised 4K video experience of the match on 5G smartphones with real-time access to multiple camera angles, 360-degree in-stadia view, shot analysis and stats. It was the first 5G powered hologram real-time interaction with fans of Kapil Dev in his virtual avatar. Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel says, “With 5G based holograms, we will be able to transport virtual avatars to any location and this will be a game changer for meetings and conferences, LIVE news and will have so many other use cases.”
The Telecom sector may not be looking at higher tariffs during the initial level of launch in metro cities but low penetration of 5G-enabled handsets and some technical limitations arising due to the inability of a bulk of these handsets in supporting certain spectrum bands are the key challenges.
“While biggest gainers would be the telecom sector, entertainment and media, and online gaming, deploying 5G is mostly infrastructural in nature, ranging from the requirement for higher frequencies to the availability of devices that support technology, especially in rural areas. The availability and cost of the spectrum band issues will be faced by operators. Overall, costs to buy spectrum, configure, test, and manage networks will require significant investment which may become a challenge for the adoption of 5G,” says Delhi-based Namita Viswanath, partner, law firm Induslaw.
The success of 5G rollout will depend on the availability of affordable 5G devices since India is a price sensitive market. “Unless domestic capabilities are augmented, there would be increased reliance on imports including from China. This could have national security implications. India’s overly complex regulatory framework may create difficulty in roll-out. Stakeholders/ telecom service providers have already made representations on the delay in issuing permissions due to lack of an online single-window clearance system, lack of clarity regarding documents required for submission of application for right of way permission, multiple policies with multiple levies of charges and procedures by many states, lack of availability of government and buildings for installation of mobile towers, availability of reliable grid power are a few bottlenecks,” adds Pranav Srivastava of Phoenix Legal.
According to Peeyush Vaish, partner and telecom sector leader, Deloitte India, “India has only 30-40% fiber connectivity and the stakeholders are working towards building a 5G ecosystem with an increased fiber footprint for higher reach.”