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"To achieve successful indigenization of 5G tech, the government, industry, and academia must work together to create a supportive ecosystem. This includes investment in research and development, fostering innovation, supporting startups, and promoting skill development in relevant fields. With a holistic approach, India can position itself as a 5G hub with sustainable and cutting-edge technologies, driving economic growth and digital transformation across the country," David says.

From a consumer standpoint, while some countries like South Korea are closing in on the 50% mark of 5G availability, there are several other countries like Indonesia which are still at a nascent stage with 5G adoption. As far as India is concerned, two of the leading Telecom and Mobile service providers, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have been rolling out 5G services since October last year and in just nine months, 5G availability has already reached 29.9% which is commendable. Reliance Jio deployed over 115,000 5G sites and approximately 690,000 5G cells across India. Additionally, both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have also announced several 5G postpaid plans bundling OTT content, unlimited 5G data and other frills, accelerating the 5G revolution in India.

Furthermore, triggered by the reduction of 5G handset pricing, the total active installed base of 5G smartphones in India stands at around 100 million, which comprises 14% of the total smartphone base. 5G subscriptions are close to the 30-35 million mark, as per market reports. However, what else can the country do to empower its 5G revolution?

How can India accelerate its 5G revolution?

India needs to take a comprehensive approach encompassing technological advancements, regulatory reforms, infrastructure development, and a conducive environment for innovation and investment.

Here are some key steps that India can take to become a 5G hub:

  • Infrastructure Development: Pumping up investments in 5G infrastructure, including the deployment of 5G towers and fiber-optic networks for backhaul, is essential to support high-speed and low-latency connectivity. Providing incentives and tax breaks to telecom operators and other industry players can encourage them to invest in 5G infrastructure and services.
  • Research and Skill Development: Collaborations between academia, research institutions, and the private sector can lead to indigenous innovation and the development of 5G technologies tailored to India's needs. Furthermore, India’s workforce needs to be upskilled and reskilled to handle 5G-related technologies and services effectively. According to a report from the Telecom Sector Skills Council (TSSC), India needs at least 22 million skilled manpower by 2025 to reap the benefits of 5G, and the demand-supply gap currently stands at 28%.
  • National 5G Roadmap: India needs to develop a clear roadmap for rolling out 5G services. Partnerships between the government and private sector players can facilitate the exchange of resources and expertise, leading to the faster implementation of 5G infrastructure. Furthermore, offering incubation centers, funding opportunities, and access to testing facilities to the stakeholders can spur the development of cutting-edge 5G technologies.

Indigenizing 5G Tech development

Indigenizing 5G tech development by adopting homegrown solutions can significantly contribute to India becoming a 5G hub. Here are ways in which indigenizing 5G tech development can help India:

  • Customization for Indian Needs: Indigenizing 5G tech allows tailoring solutions to address these specific needs, including last-mile connectivity and rural broadband access. The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) approved homegrown 5Gi standard developed by IIT Madras, IIT Hyderabad, TSDSI, and the Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) is aimed at improving 5G coverage in India’s remotest areas.
  • National Security and Technological Sovereignty: Indigenizing the 5G technology will allow India to have more control over critical infrastructure ensuring data privacy and compliance with national security standards.
  • Reduced Reliance on Imports and Export Potential: Indigenization of 5G technology can reduce India's dependence on imports and increase export opportunities. Indian companies can offer cost-effective and customized solutions to other developing nations facing similar challenges.

Use case and Industry applications

Climate change has been raising alarming concerns across the globe calling for sustainable technology and infrastructure. 5G technology offers a wide range of use cases and industry applications that can benefit India across various sectors. For instance, 5G-powered smart grids can optimize energy distribution, improve grid reliability, and enable better management of energy consumption. Additionally, 5G can support various smart city applications, including intelligent traffic management, smart street lighting, waste management, etc., aligning with India’s endeavours of building smart cities.

In India, the agricultural sector is also reaping the benefits of 5G by implementing precision farming with 5G-powered IoT devices, allowing farmers to monitor soil conditions, weather patterns, and crop health in real time. This data-driven approach is optimizing resource usage and increasing agricultural productivity. Other notable sectors benefiting from 5G include BFSI, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Media, Logistics and the Automotive industry.

As 5G infrastructure becomes more widespread, it will open up new opportunities for innovation and transform various industries, contributing to India's socio-economic development and digital transformation.

Addressing security and privacy concerns in India

Addressing security and privacy concerns is paramount for the successful adoption of 5G technology. As 5G networks become integral to daily life, safeguarding user data and network integrity is crucial. Key measures include robust encryption, strong authentication, continuous network monitoring, and secure endpoints. Adhering to secure software development practices and implementing privacy by design principles mitigate vulnerabilities. Regulatory compliance, such as the upcoming Personal Data Protection bill, is pivotal for data security. The surge in IoT devices necessitates security protocols, while educating users about risks enhances awareness.

Secure supply chain practices and collaboration among stakeholders further fortify defenses. Regular red teaming and vulnerability assessments identify weaknesses, and securing edge computing ensures data protection. Implementing these measures ensures that 5G realizes its potential while maintaining security and privacy.

Conclusion

To achieve successful indigenization of 5G tech, the government, industry, and academia must work together to create a supportive ecosystem. This includes investment in research and development, fostering innovation, supporting startups, and promoting skill development in relevant fields. With a holistic approach, India can position itself as a 5G hub with sustainable and cutting-edge technologies, driving economic growth and digital transformation across the country.

Additionally, Addressing security and privacy concerns in 5G is crucial to ensure the widespread adoption and success of this technology. As 5G networks and services become more integrated into our daily lives, protecting user data and ensuring the integrity of the network is of paramount importance. India needs to implement robust encryption protocols and strong authentication mechanisms to maintain network integrity. It is also a prerequisite to enforce stringent regulatory measures and standards governing the security and privacy aspects of 5G networks.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Sunil David

Quelle/Source: ET Telecom, 16.09.2023

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