By SP Kochhar
The ongoing measures for the 5G rollout hold tremendous significance. Prime minister Narendra Modi noted that besides 5G, initiatives to promote optical fibre cable networks, indigenous manufacture of semiconductors and promotion of digital entrepreneurship in villages via Common Services Centres will also make the nation aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) during the upcoming techade. Through the Digital India mission, every village will be digitally connected as 5G spreads across the country.
While the 5G network will provide higher throughput and bandwidth, the spectrum will be used in front-haul networks only. For backhaul networks, either microwave or fibre will be deployed. Given the better carrying capacity of fibre, this will be preferred. Since a substantial amount of optical fibre is being laid by BharatNet—the largest rural broadband mission globally—a significant synergy is developing between this public sector unit and private telecom companies. With 5G and BharatNet, the nation is poised to have the largest digital populace worldwide after China, boosting India’s digital economy.
Supporting the digital drive, an industry leader asserted that the electronics and tech industries can create 60 million direct and indirect jobs, contributing more than $3 trillion to India’s GDP by 2033. The next stage of growth is then slated to emerge from multiple enterprise-centric use cases that leverage 5G’s super-speed and low latency. For example, with 5G, internet of things (IoT) can reach new dimensions in all aspects. As a new-age technology tool, IoT will benefit both individuals and institutions by establishing a mobile ecosystem with a powerful mix of exponential speed, expanded bandwidth, minimal latency, and enhanced power efficiency connecting billions of networks in the coming years, transforming the world as we know it. In essence, this fifth generation of wireless technology will be more than a fast network and will also act as a technological bridge to the future. Through machines embedded with sensors that will continuously stream data to computers on their activities, companies will use IoT to boost production efficiency and limit wastage. As the use of sensors in devices grows, estimates indicate that for every human there may be at least seven IoT-enabled gadgets.
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Reaching 15-20 GBPS, the transmission speeds will help people access files, programmes and data on remote applications. The use of the cloud will intensify, with all gadgets depending minimally on their internal memory. Therefore, there will be no need to install various processors on devices. Moreover, as 5G is 10 times faster than the present 4G networks, latency will be proportionately lower. Lower latency will encourage the increased use of sensors in industrial units. Thanks to better control over precision instruments, healthcare professionals could intervene in surgical procedures in hinterland areas through remote management. Additionally, a rising number of devices will be connected y-o-y to the network. All these connected devices will exchange information with one another in real time. Estimates indicate that 50 billion-plus devices will be connected worldwide to the IoT by 2030.
With India intent on increasing its energy efficiency, smart grids and virtual power plants will play a key role. Through 5G, smart electricity grids will gain from real-time management and automation. Also, maintenance will be optimised with faults detected and solutions provided swiftly. With 5G-IoT applications sharing real-time information about road and traffic conditions among vehicles and other road users, accidents can be minimised. As real-time traffic data will be collected and analysed directly from roadside infrastructure, smart transportation systems would warn drivers about traffic blocks, hazardous road conditions, and other situations that can compromise the safety of motorists and pedestrians. Thereby, traffic efficiency and road safety will be improved. Also, for improving the liveability index of citizens, smart cities use 5G and IoT-enabled devices to garner real-time data, decode the demand-and-supply patterns of resources and respond with speedy, lower-cost solutions. The digital city’s dedicated networks of sensors, mobile devices, smart home appliances, connected vehicles, communication gateways and data centres will work in sync to offer better living conditions for inhabitants. Finally, the rise in crime and climate-related events makes 24×7 video surveillance a necessity to promote public safety and security, but video surveillance systems currently based on wired connectivity have limitations. The deployment of wireless networks can lead to faster set-ups while lowering costs and enhancing connectivity as well as performance parameters compared to wired surveillance. Public safety apart, 5G-IoT security solutions help prevent the loss of key assets as action can be taken immediately after an alert on mobiles or other connected devices.
Thanks to the multiplicity of benefits, 5G and IoT-enabled devices are slated to unlock a plethora of benefits for all stakeholders by overcoming connectivity issues and allowing seamless communication. Considering the above scenario, the future may just be around the corner.
The author is Director-general, COAI