Policy Watch – Transforming The Telecom Sector (5G Network)

General Studies – Paper III (Government policies and their interventions, Industrial Growth)

Introduction :-

India is the world’s 2nd largest telecommunication market, with a subscriber base of 1.2 Billion.

Expansion of the digital footprint and roll out of new telecom technologies like 5G, and revival of BSNL & MTNL top the government priority.

Efforts are seen being made on a trail day-to-day basis.

Definition :- 5G is the fifth generation cellular technology that apart from increasing the downloading and uploading speeds over the mobile network, also reduces the latency i.e. the time taken by a network to respond.

  • 5G will provide download speed of 1 Gbps, which is at least 100 times the existing data speeds.
  • It also increases energy efficiency and offers more stable network connections.

Indian Context :- India is considered a late adopter of technology, however 5G is coming out sooner than expected.

2G and 3G had competition for space but 4G and 5G increased cooperation and coordination and generated a competitive environment wherein various PSU’s will have to put in coordinated efforts for the successive penetration of 5G network.

Image result for difference between 4g and 5 g

Evolution from First Generation to Fifth Generation

  • 1G worked on analog radio signals and supported only voice calls.
  • 2G uses digital radio signals and supported both voice and data transmission with a Bandwidth of 64 Kbps (very weak).
  • 3G with a speed of 1 Mbps to 2 Mbps and it has the ability to transmit telephone signal including digitised voice, video calls and conferencing.
  • 4G with a peak speed of 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps and it also enables 3D virtual reality.
  • 5G is the current debate.

Deployment : Fortunately this time we are together with the world in rolling out the 5G network.

  • It means that even when 5G is deployed, it will take the telecom giants, a couple of years to achieve the speed of 5G.
  • The customers will have to upgrade their SIM cards and buy new 5G enabled phones to access better speeds.
  • 3G network was developed 6yrs late, 4G was developed 3yrs late.

How would switching over to 5G benefit Indian consumers ?
Advantages –
  1) Ultra high-speed broadband.
  2) Latency is very low.
  3) Machine to machine communication.
  4) We can keep a track on contamination points of rivers.
5) Tracking  agricultural yield.
6) Track animals to stop illegal hunting and poaching issues.
7) Connectivity of Optical fiber to rural .
8) Increase in investment will lead to increase in GDP.

How will companies in India provide seamless transition ?

  • Adoption or switching over to 5G network is a little different compared to western countries.
  • World relates 5G as machine to machine learning, but India has to see how 5G network can benefit agriculture, health industry, decongest roads in cities.
    Cases that fit out country.
  • 5G network will give business opportunities and generate employment.
  • Telecom sector is consumer centric but lot of things are lying back in infrastructure development.
  • Changes in usage system will require changes in the industry itself.
  • 5G is going to play a major role in industrial revolution 4.0

Pricing :-

  1. The base price should not be compared with other countries as every country has different laws and it’s uses.
  2. Licencing framework and spectrum line by India is designed for 20 yrs whereas the Korean model is licenced it only for 10 yrs.
  3. India is a developing nation and should look at the base prices in a holistic manner.
  4. Operators always want the spectrum prices to be low so that the profit earned by them can be used for other infrastructural purposes.
  5. Policy makers have a different aspect in pricing as they design the policy for ling term benefits.
  6. For a smooth 5G rollout the initial prices are suggested to be low since various companies have already spent a lot on 4G spectrum recently.
  7. A balance has to be maintained in rolling out latest technology with affordable and reasonable prices.
  8. On an international level, South Korea is the first country to roll-out 5G network on a commercial scale.
  9. We should follow 5G network on how it benefits our country rather than following other developed nations.
  10. 5G as a technological upgradation gives a lot of flexibility in what type of service a nation requires.
  11. Usage habits of India and other nations vary on a large scale therefore coordination among various companies can give a stable output in a large scale.
  12. 5G network rollout in India will have a cumulative impact that would add 1 Trillion dollars by the year 2035.

Revival of PSU’s – 

  1. Negative profits were seen as PSU’s too much time to upgrade to 4G while ther private sector was fast enough.
  2. As the PSU’s were trying their best, big companies like Reliance Jio polarised the market.
  3. A dynamic change along with the political will is needed to revive PSU’s and set them according to  private sector standards.
  4. Suggestions to PSU’s – 1) Upgrading their technology as soon as possible before 5G enters market.
    1. Upgrading their technology as soon as possible before 5G enters market.
    2. Reduce exepnditure on employers salaries i.e financial management is a must.
    3. Monetisation of resources such as land, infrastructure etc.


  • The promised speed of 5G is difficult to achieve considering the incompetent technological support in most parts of the world. 
  • Many of the old devices will need to be replaced as they are not supporting 5G. 
  • In India average download speed is 9.12 Mbps which is very less in comparison to the global average speed of 23.54 Mbps. 
  • Number of users in India also poses huge challenge in terms of swift upsurge in mobile broadband consumption and the subsequent network congestion.
  • The switch from 4G to 5G will be infrastructure intensive and development of infrastructure for 5G is very expensive.

Way Ahead

  • An “intelligence-first” approach will need to be adopted by Telecom providers for managing core networks as an important business investment. 
  • The arrival of 5G-enabling smart devices will change the way we live & think and can be a game changer for better service delivery, faster access to services and deeper penetration of digital services.
  • It is high time that India should strengthen the domestic telecommunication manufacturing market to enable local industries to capture both domestic as well as global market. 

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