What is 5G?

Until now, the internet users in India were provided with 3G and 4G network services, which refer to the third and the fourth generations of wireless technology respectively. The latest technology that is supposed to be launched in India is 5G. 5G is the new technology that will not only help in fast downloads and enable smooth connection during video calls but will also be interconnecting various devices and machines to one another. 5G takes a higher leap from other previous generations and has the potential to make industries grow and take technology to a higher level of efficiency and performance and even support the vast IoT (Internet of Things).  

What is the difference between 4G and 5G?

Criteria 4G 5G
Average speed 25 Mbps 200 – 400 Mbps
No. of devices that it can connect per sq. km A proper 4G network can connect 1,00,000 devices per sq. km Can connect a million devices per sq. km
Frequencies 2.5 Gigahertz 95 Gigahertz
Bandwidth 200 Mbps >1 Gbps
Latency 20 – 30 milliseconds Below 10 milliseconds

From the given table, it is obvious that 5G connection takes a higher leap from the previous generations of wireless technology. While 3G could give services to around 60 – 100 people and 4G could give services to 300 or 400 people, 5G is capable of doing much more than that. 5G is even more spectrally efficient than 4G. It will also be using small cells instead of macro-cells as was used in 4G. Small cells require less power and work more efficiently compared to macro-cells.

4g and 5g smartphones adoption rates in India
  [Source: gsmaintelligence.com]

What will 5G bring?

With its high potential, 5G is capable of interconnecting more objects, devices and machines than ever before. From interconnected homes to autonomous driving, if this network is utilized properly, it would help technology grow to a much higher level and would also pave way for newer and more advanced industries. A broader range of industrial growth will also be seen. With the help of 5G, not only most devices that we use in our homes will be connected to the internet but will also be able to communicate with each other. Devices like TV, refrigerator, geyser, lights, etc. will all be interconnected. For example, an individual can ask the sound system to turn on the lights of a room.

When will Indian internet users be provided with 5G services?

According to recent reports, 5G phones are set to be available in stores in mid – 2020 right after the spectrum auction has been held in April – June. It is expected that companies will be presenting both new 4G and 5G models, wherein the initial price of the latter will not be less than Rs. 30,000 and of the former shall be quite low (perhaps within 10,000). The prices of the 5G phones will be starting from 30,000 – 35,000 and will remain so this year. The prices may lower in 2021 along with its full-fledged sales. The companies who have stated their 5G timelines are Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, OnePlus, Vivo, Micromax and Samsung. According to recent reports, 1.5 million 5G smartphones are expected to be sold in India, which is equivalent to about 1% of the country’s smartphone sales.

Country wise Internet users in the world and their Ranks
[Source: Wikipedia]

The Spectrum Auction for 5G in India:

The spectrum auction is supposed to be held this year around April – June. The government is expecting to sell both 4G and 5G bandwidths. These auctions are held almost every year where the government conducts an auction for the license of all available electromagnetic spectrum in that particular year. This year, the operators taking part in the auction are stating that the base prices suggested by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) are too high. For example, an offer on 8,293.95 MHz of 4G and 5G spectrum, if sold at base price, can fetch the government almost 6 lakh crore rupees (INR). Another example is that the government has suggested that the base price for 5G airwaves will be Rs. 492cr per MHz and that an operator can buy up to a minimum of 20 blocks.

Therefore, a company has to spend around Rs. 10,000cr for 20 MHz (20 x 492cr). Rajan Mathews, the director of COAI (Cellular Operations Association of India) stated that the price the government has hiked is still not appropriate and the financial stability of the participating companies will be at stake if the prices are not reduced.

Also Read: Decoding the Impact of Corona Virus

5G in India: The biggest question is that is India ready for 5G…?

Finally, Before we jump onto 5G, let us have a quick flashback and recall what has happened in case of 4G. When the entire world was using 4G+, companies like Jio and BSNL were still struggling and doing their best trying to provide all Indian internet users with the 4G connection. If we recapitulate more, it took almost a decade for India to provide 3G services.

So, with India having the second-largest Internet user base in the world, we do not have “Full Connectivity” all throughout the country, which was the initial aim of 4G. It is highly unlikely that India will be able to employ 5G in 2020. It would probably take a few years more. Furthermore, the hiked prices that have been set up will be posing a challenge for the operators participating in the spectrum auction. There is also inadequate availability of spectrum in the right frequency bands in the auction.

[Source: hootsuite.com]
average connection speeds for the top 50 countries on the internet
  [Source: pingdom.com]

From the picture given above, it is clear that the internet speed in India is extremely low as compared to other countries. When the mobile download speed of South Korea is 52.4 Mb/s, India is still at around 6 Mb/s for both. We not only lag behind in terms of speed, but also in terms of technological advancement. More research and application of all those researches is needed in our country. We still need a lot of development in 4G network. The speed of 4G is similar to that of 3G in most public places. Thereby, it is very unlikely that India is ready to implement the IoT (Internet of Things) by this year.