Even though 4G and smartphones penetration has grown in India, the state of the mobile communications in the country is still fragmented and inconsistent. While the rapid growth of 4G is the main high point, issues such as call drops and consistent data coverage still mar the experience. Consumer demands are increasing by leaps and bounds but the very mention of 5G seems futuristic and a distant dream to realize. Even as we identify and address the issues, the buzz around 5G has begun in India, and the industry seems bullish on the next generation communication technology.
With 5G not only the network speeds will improve, but it will also bring about significant socio-economic and cultural change. Envision a situation when the connectivity between your smartphone and appliances at your home is such that you can remotely operate them. Internet of Things or IoT is one of the vast numbers of use cases that 5G technology is going to drive. From smart vehicles to app-controlled door locks, machine learning and much more, the use of 5G network is beyond a mobile device. With enhanced communication between people and devices, it will translate into better revenue and help further the country’s economy. ALSO READ: Telecom sector under financial stress: Airtel’s Gopal Vittal
For example, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Smart Cities’ mission is aimed at rebuilding cities with the help of communication technology and IoT. “5G and smart cities are synonymous,” says Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI. To put into perspective, the mission of the governance is to have citizen friendly and sustainable cities which are energy efficient, low on pollution and have a sound healthcare as part of the infrastructure. At the core of the whole model is technology and with technology, it is envisioned to be 5G. In a recent interview with BGR India, Mathews said that people want faster internet but they want to have cell towers or fiber cable installation around them. In such a conflicting situation it is difficult to address the challenges.
It is worth mentioning that currently, the telecom sector is under tremendous financial stress. In a recent investor call, Bharti Airtel called the sector ‘heavily taxed’ owing to the exuberant spectrum costs, licensing fee, and service taxes. While the operators and telecom regulatory bodies expect that the government will finally pay heed to the consumer and industry demands, it can also be considered a death knell for the ‘affordable’ services Indians have become used to in the recent past.
Going forward, if India wants to hop on the bandwagon of the smart ecosystem, where appliances are capable of talking to each other, humans are able to download content at lightning speeds, and a sustainable model for agriculture, housing, and industries can be achieved, then the requirement for more funding will be felt. Now this will eventually translate into more money being extracted out of the pockets of the consumers. So if you want a house that talks to you when you are away, or looking at having a seamless internet coverage in your locality, digits are likely to increase on the future bills.