India has earned itself the reputation of a data-hungry nation owing to the advent of 4G and affordable data plans. On the sidelines of the Indian Mobile Congress, Ericsson shared its vision about the next-gen network capabilities, along with throwing some light on the challenges on the road to the deployment of 5G in the country and across the globe.
According to the Ericsson Mobility Report (June 2017), data usage levels are expected to increase from the current 4GB per smartphone per month to about 11 GB per smartphone per month in 2022. Between 2016 to 2022, the total mobile data traffic is further expected to rise at a rate of around 40 percent, reaching almost 8 EB (exabyte) of data per month compared to around 1 EB by the end of 2016.
As India is projected to deploy 5G networks by 2020, Ericsson expects that there will be around 190 million IoT cellular connections. In addition to that, it is estimated that there will be around 1.4 billion mobile subscriptions with over 60 percent on smartphones and around 1.26 billion mobile broadband subscriptions. By 2026, it is estimated that 5G digitization will be complete.
In the Indian context, the 700MHz band is said to be the best suited for deployment of 5G services. However, as seen in last year’s auction, it went unsold owing to high prices. The telcom sector is already reeling under financial stress – an issue also touched upon during the India Mobile Congress 2017 – but operators as well as technology companies are enthused about the new-age technology which is being already demonstrated in some parts of the world including China and Europe.
Ericsson has proposed the use of ‘5G anchor bands’ which refers to combination of high frequency spectrum bands that are currently unused with 5G channels on lower bands. By combining the two using carrier aggregation functionality in 5G, the operators will be able to provide better 5G coverage and capacity for an improved consumer experience. ALSO READ: 5G in India: Faster connectivity, IoT, Smart Cities, socio-economic impact and more
It must be noted that initial 5G deployments are likely to be non-standalone configurations in mid-bands together with mmWave frequencies 24-43.5 GHz. A combination of 4G and 5G bands is expected as traffic increases and new use cases mature. However, standalone 5G deployments will gradually get access to 4G spectrum in mid-low bands. In India, the 3.3-3.6 GHz band has already been identified as the primary band for the introduction of 5G services before 2020.
Ericsson says it has already started deploying the capability in some use cases such as mobility and mining where IoT plays a pivotal role. Elaborating further on how 5G is set to bring about a change in the way people and devices communicate, Christian Hedelin, Head of Strategy, Business Area Networks, Ericsson said, “Partnerships will be key for the success of 5G. Ericsson has launched world’s first 5G platform and has signed 5G collaboration agreements with 30+ operators, 20 industry partners and 45 universities and institutes around the world including IIT Delhi.” ALSO READ: Many organizations are willing to pay more for 5G: Gartner
In the coming years, 5G is expected to be the driving force behind automation, mobility and consumer experience, and will have multiple industrial applications. The four major use cases include the ability for doctors to perform remote surgery, especially in areas which are difficult in terms of accessibility, improve traffic monitoring, allow for smart transportation, bring improvement in agricultural output, and at a very basic level – allow for an enhanced entertainment experience through 4K UHD content, higher quality voice calls, and so on. ALSO READ: 5G to make AR, VR experiences mainstream: Report