When is 5G Coming to India? Not Anytime Soon, Industry Experts Suggest

India has barely settled on 4G speeds as a majority of the Indian users, especially those not in the metro cities, still don’t have access or the means to access 4G networks. But people have already started asking when 5G is coming to India.

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But How Is 5G Better?

Not only does 5G network offer higher speeds than 4G — reducing latency, especially in scenarios such as video calls – but also offers lesser congestion as it can accommodate more users simultaneously, owing to higher bandwidth.

With the increase in the reach of Internet in India, the number of users is increasing at a high rate every day, hence, the network usage too.

5G tech uses a higher density of cells that consume lower power and work efficiently at higher frequencies. This translates into more bandwidth to accommodate users and lower rates of data pack loss as well as a greener environment due to low power consumption.

5G makes use of MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology, which further minimizes the space for errors like loss of data integrity and also helps in optimizing data speeds.

In order to be able to maintain the integrity of the network as well as accommodate more users without hampering speeds, 5G network rollout will be requisite in the future.

When Is It Coming to India?

So, when is 5G technology going to come to India? Senior executives at Rosenberger — a Germany-based leader of high frequency and high voltage connections globally — told GuidingTech that they don’t see 5G coming to India in the foreseeable future.

While a majority of reports suggest that 5G technology should make its way into India between 2020 and 2022, the industry experts aren’t too sure about it.

Why Not?

While telecom operators such as Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, and Reliance Jio are reportedly integrating MIMO tech on a trial basis — moving towards 5G tech — a complete rollout of the 5G network will need new infrastructure to be installed by the companies.

Currently, all networks running on 4G bandwidth in India face congestion especially in areas of high density — leading to poor network strength as well as low speeds.

One of the major hurdles faced by Indian telecom operators are the dwindling tariff charges for the service offered. This wasn’t always the case.

The disruption in the telecom industry, which led to plummeting tariff costs, was caused after Reliance introduced their Jio 4G VoLTE network.

Telecom revenues are a hurdle too.

“Such low tariffs are also leading to a poor quality of the network. If the latter can be improved by the companies then in all probability the customers might be willing to pay more. Quality requires people to pay more to be able to sustain it, and the same is true in the Indian context as it is for the rest of the world,” Scott Wilson, Director BSA, Rosenberger Asia Pacific, told GuidingTech.

Since, one of the major revenue sources of telecom operators has taken a hit, switching to new infrastructure so soon after the introduction of 4G networks in India — which also needed infrastructural changes — don’t attract companies towards buying new hardware in the near future.

“5G can be an answer to these worries as it provides higher speeds and more bandwidth, but it also requires allocation of new bands — and that needs additional infrastructural changes, which requires a financial investment,” Denis NG, Director – Marketing and Infrastructure, Rosenberger Asia Pacific, told GuidingTech.

Although the hardware to enable support for 5G is currently being sold worldwide, and OEMs are working on a precursor to the technology dubbed 4.5G and 4.9G, 5G technology is still in its nascent stage and a wider rollout will take time even in a global context.

How Can Telecom Operators Switch to 5G?

Aforesaid, switching to 5G will not only require software updates but also a plethora of infrastructural overhaul including fiber backhaul, which will incur massive monetary expenses.

With declining revenues, it’s going to become a challenging task for telecom operators to be able to afford to take the leap towards new infrastructure.

Indian telcos are vying to increase their user base as an increasing number of people are accepting technology in one of the biggest consumer markets of the world.

While it may seem impossible given the current scenario, the only possible way for companies to gain revenues is to enhance the quality of their current networks and then work towards increasing tariffs uniformly across all service providers in the industry.

Even the Ministry of Communications at the Indian government has plans to move forward in the sphere of technology and get their hands on 5G tech by 2020 but given the current scenario where Indian telcos are faced with dwindling revenues, it doesn’t really seem like a viable proposition.

Prayank

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