Telecom industrial revolution via 5G
The telecom sector is speeding up introduction of 5G network even though operators are yet to recover investments made in still-new 4G rollouts. Both operators and the authorities are keen to avoid any delays as 5G is expected to change the human machine interface.
“That is why, despite not having monetised, not having taken care of all investments that have gone into 4G, everyone — operators or partners — is chasing 5G,” said Abhay Savargaonkar, director, networks, Bharti AirtelBSE 2.30 %. He was speaking at the ET Telecom 5G Congress summit held in the Capital on Friday. He expects the industry to play a lead role in the fourth industrial revolution and is “committed to make it work.”
Competitor Reliance Jio Infocomm is in the 5G race as well. Mathew Oommen, president of network, global strategy and service development, said India needs to build a grid ecosystem and create its own platforms of intelligence to leverage emerging 5G opportunities, thus making a difference in the “everythingconnected” digital world. “5G is just the beginning. I see opportunity is de-segregating commodity hardware from software, wherein lies the opportunity for India to create digital giants of intelligence,” he said.
Some feel carriers should segregate network from operations and pool it to create network companies.
“I believe the endgame, if we have to provide affordable services, would be formation of network companies that can produce capacities to offer operators without discrimination, except in the quantum they consume and slots they take,” said Akhil Gupta, chairman, Bharti Infratel.
“We’re a long time away, but so was passive infrastructure sharing some years ago. I think if there’s proper debate, it’s not totally unthinkable.”BIG ROLE FOR GOVERNMENT
Operators emphasised that the huge change 5G will bring to people’s lives can only take place if authorities provide more spectrum, make it easier to lay fibre optics and generally help in building capacity.
Oommen said India needs to put in place top-end cloud infrastructure and create a spawning ground for the homegrown Alibabas, Amazons or Blockchains, and even an artificial machine learning platform.
The Jio networks president noted that while the US and China already own a good set of digital applications, services and associated data, the opportunity is not lost for India.
Both Airtel and Jio are investing in massive multiple input-multiple output (MIMO) technology, which increases base station capacity 5-7 times and cuts interference substantially, boosting transmission signal to devices.
Since speed is one of the most critical aspects of 5G, operators expect the highspeed LTE band 40 to be included in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). This, along with availability of more bands such as 700 Mhz, will help develop the ecosystem and give operators access to spectrum and capacity.
3GPP is a collaboration of telecommunications associations that looks into various standards of networks, of which 5G is one.
Savargaonkar also said, “Fibre penetration in India is too low. It is important the government supports us in making regulations so right of way (ROW) permissions become easy.” He sought ROW permissions for laying down fibre cables along the same lines as that for electricity or water pipelines.