Many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in 5G rollout in India say, experts


New Delhi: Whether it arrives in India or not, 5G is the buzzword at every Smartphone event that has been taking place since the last one year. And it is likely to continue to be a hot topic through 2020 as well.

Highlighting the prevailing lack of awareness among consumers regarding the potential of 5G, and the timeline for availability of 5G services in India, CUTS International Deputy Executive Director Udai S Mehta, said that consumers were eager to adopt 5G services but high cost and lack of valuable utility of IoT driven products were significant barriers to its adoption.

Sharing findings from a CUTS consumer survey Mr. Mehta made these observations while participating in a webinar ‘Myths and Realities of 5G in India’, organised by CUTS International in Delhi on Thursday.

Sharing his views Stanford University Professor Emeritus Dr. Arogyaswami Paulraj opined that 5G’s enhanced capabilities will unlock many consumers facing and industrial use cases, by enabling Machine to Machine, and Person to Machine communication. He also mentioned weaknesses in India’s network infrastructure, which need to be overcome to realise the full potential of 5G – early, efficiently, pervasively, and inclusively.


Underlining the importance of data protection and privacy with 5G, former Finance Secretary of India and Economic Advisor to Rajasthan Chief Minister Dr. Arvind Mayaram called for the gamut of data to be generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) devices to be kept secured. He also underlined the importance and role of 5G in bridging the prevailing digital divide in India, which becomes more important in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Qualcomm Vice President, Technology & Economic Strategy Ms. Kirti Gupta pointed out the importance of Make in India to be implemented in its spirit. She highlighted the need for India to move from being mere assemblers of mobile phones to actual innovators and developers of mobile chipset technology, which would require investments and intent on Research and Development (R&D).

Participating in the programme Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Deputy Director General Vikram Tiwathia appreciated the government’s initial efforts towards the Digital India programme and the National Digital Communication Policy. However, he also expressed discontent on the lost momentum in the last few years. He highlighted India’s strength in software development and suggested to focus on data-driven use cases of 5G, as India’s contribution to 5G.

Broadband India Forum President TV Ramachandran called for India to upgrade its presently inadequate network infrastructure, especially with respect to more extensive fiberisation, enhanced download/upload capability, adequate field trials of 5G use cases, and optimal spectrum allocation. He also called on the government to lower the price of spectrum, since they were considered to be much higher than global averages considering the purchasing power of telecoms in India.

In this regard, Public Policy Consultant Deepak Maheshwari suggested a relook at the provision of having a minimum reserved price at the time of spectrum auction.

The webinar was attended by approximately 100 participants. These included government representatives, academicians, sector experts, service providers, civil society organisations, media personnel, etc.



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