The race to who will be the first to launch 5G connectivity in India has heated up over the past couple of months.
The race to who will be the first to launch 5G connectivity in India has heated up over the past couple of months. From state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei, and almost everyone in between, a lot of partnerships, promises and R&D is already underway.
What is 5G?
In an attempt to quench the consumer’s thirst for the speediest internet connection, the telecom industry has been constantly striving to evolve and improve tech. To start with, the “G” stands for “generation,” and the first generation of wireless connectivity began in the early 1990s with 1G. Over the years, with improvements in technology, rising acceptance of wireless connectivity and increasing consumer expectations, each generation of this wireless tech has seen improvements but both connectivity and speed.
Like 3G and 4G, 5G is also an attempt to improve wireless connectivity, with an eye to keeping in step with the rising penetration of mobile devices and mobile internet all over the world. In fact, according to Gartner, there will be 20.8 billion devices connecting to the internet by 2020. And we aren’t very far away from that prediction, given that there already are an estimated 6.4 billion devices connected to the internet worldwide in 2017.
Coming back to the 5th generation of wireless broadband, this technology will operate at 5Ghz, with the ability to offer speeds of up to 1GB per second for multiple connections. With 5G mobile SIM internet already being in testing stages across several developed countries, various companies in India are now in a race to bring this technology to our nation. In fact, BSNL has gone so far as to state that it will start 5G trials in India as early as March 2018, while adding that this tech could offer speeds that are 15 times faster than 4G.
Contenders for the Finish Line
At the India Mobile Congress 2017, held in New Delhi from September 27 to 29, China-based Huawei talked about the work it has done so far for the commercial launch of a 5G network in India, along with some other developed countries across the world. Huawei began its R&D into 5G as early as 2009 and expects to invest nearly ₹3,928 crores in this technology by 2018.
Huawei India’s CEO, Jay Chen stated, “The 5G era is approaching, and we are confident that 5G deployment in India will happen in line with global timeline.” In addition, Peter Zhai, President of Huawei India’s Consumer Business Group said, “Huawei will be the number one company to push out 5G phones and infrastructure in India when the 5G network is ready.”
In collaboration with Bharti Airtel, Huawei has recently launched India’s very first Massive Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna technology, which has the potential to improve spectrum efficiency, six- to ten-fold. It will also meaningfully reduce networking costs, while improving intensive coverage as well as user experience.
The reason Huawei is a strong contender in the 5G race is that the company has already released its 5G-based “mobile bearer solution,” X-Haul, in India in August. This solution will help Indian operators create and provide end-to-end 5G services.
On the other hand, our very own BSNL has entered into a partnership with Coriant, a US-based telecom company, to map out the road to both 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) implementation in India. With the help of Coriant, BSNL aims to innovate on network architecture as well as services, with a focus on 5G, IoT and SDN/NFV (Software Defined Networking/ Network Functions Virtualisation), along with mobile edge computing.
In addition, BSNL is also in talks with Nokia, Larsen & Tubro and HP to provide the end devices that would be compatible with 5G.
Not to be left behind, India’s largest telecom operators, including Reliance Jio, Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone, are also working on bringing 5G to India, by gearing up to introduce massive MIMO technology in the country, which is a pre-requisite for the functioning of 5G connectivity. These telecom operators expect to embed massive MIMO into their respective networks by 2020, starting with deploying this tech first on their 4G networks.
With the race heating up and BSNL promising to have the ability to start a trial run by the end of this financial year, India seems all set to see a whole new era of high-speed connectivity.