19th August – 5G Infrastructure for Global Digital Economy

5G Infrastructure for Global Digital Economy

5G is the next generation of wireless technology. ‘Generations’ are technically defined by their data transmission speeds and in encoding methods, or ‘air interfaces’. These promise greater speed (to move more data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices).

5G Infrastructure for Global Digital Economy

What is 5G technology?

  • 5G networks use OFDM encoding, with the air interface designed for much lower latency and greater flexibility than LTE or the 4G technology.
  • 5G will have data transfer speeds of up to 100 gb/sec; latency of only 1 ms – much lower than 4G, and will enable a video film to be downloaded in 1 sec. It will support more connections on a broad range of frequencies 300 MHz-90 GHz, and a million devices per sq kilometer. While most 4G channels are 20 MHz, 5G channels can be up to 400MHz. Data will move 100 times faster; it will handle far more data, with far lower lag times. It is about machine-to-machine communications, with billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected – from washing machines to self-driving cars to entire smart cities.

Why does 5G matter?

  • Digital economies will ride on these platforms – routers, switches, base stations, smartphones, towers, cloud data centres!
  • 5G is an investment for the next decade. This infrastructure will transform society, industry, automation and be the backbone for digital economies throughout the world.

What should India do?

So how do we handle the challenge of building core technology ourselves, and deploy the same. Creating R&D capacity, and cybersecurity and testing labs in the private sector are the immediate tasks for the government. Some of the policy initiatives are as follows:-

  • The government should fund R&D in 4G and 5G in the private sector for long term goals, say matching funds invested by the private sector, with the condition that the license for IP developed with a grant, will be retained in India. It should provide start-ups with testbeds in the military for trial runs, and for tell companies to deploy on trial in sandbox environment under the watch of TRAI, before large scale acceptance of indigenous platforms.
  • Initiate the setting up of a cluster of labs across the country in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model that can focus on the development of the next-generation communications and computing infrastructure, so that we don’t play catch-up and are ready with the required core technologies for the future. In the immediate future, the Government can extend the usage of lab facilities given to academic institutions under 5G testbed and other nano-science activities to the startups doing research and development (R&D) in 5G.
  • Existing Wipro cybersecurity lab in Hyderabad, for its global clients, can be mandated by the Government to test and certify components and products from 4G/5G vendors. However, the government has to notify standards for this to happen. For testing various components of the network including firmware chips etc for vulnerabilities and finding back doors, the government should require the global companies to share firmware code and other relevant details for testing by this lab
  • Encourage and incentivise the adoption of Indian semi-conductor chips:-
  1. Mandate usage of Indian semiconductor chips in defense and strategic network equipment wherever Indian chips are available/feasible within a reasonable time.
  2. Clearly identify and promote the indigenised core technologies critical to the systems in programs like ‘Make in India’.
  3. Incentivise the telecom operators to use Indian made equipment (maybe subsidy on license money or some other method).
  4. Indigenous products in core technology face tremendous price pressures in the market from incumbents. But a policy such as the government subsidising, say, the first million units of any indigenously developed and owned chip/system sold by an Indian company, can help ward off the pricing pressures and establish a market. Lessons of Software Technology Parks can also help.

Conclusion –

In 5G trials, we must include Indian start-ups. It is time that tele-companies be asked to test and try the 4G and 5G chipsets of start-ups in field trials, under the aegis of the regulator. This alone will give them a chance to prove their technology in competition with Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens, Samsung, and Huawei.

SourceVIF India

Also read: 17th August – Understanding the post of ‘Chief of Defence Staff’