December 8, 2023

5G Technology


The Department of Telecommunications on Tuesday allowed private telcos Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and VI (formerly Vodafone Idea) and well as state-run telco Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) to start trials for 5G technology as well as its applications in various sectors.

What is 5G Technology?

5g is the next generation wireless cellular technology that will provide faster and more reliable communication with ultra-low latency. A government panel report points out that with 5G, the peak network data speeds are expected to be in the range of 2-20 Gigabit per second (Gbps).

How it works?

5G technology is not a single technology but an amalgamation of various technologies which make the aforesaid performance possible. Following are the major technologies used in 5G:

  1. mm Wave (millimetre Wave)
  2. Massive multi-user MIMO (Multiple input multiple output)
  3. Small Cell stations
  4. Mobile Edge Computing (MEC)
How is 5G different to 4G?
5G uses much higher radio frequencies of 28 ghz.4G uses lower reading frequencies of 700 mhz to 2500 mhz.
5G transfers more data over the air at faster speeds.4G speed is lesser with less data transfer.
5G has lower latency i.e. the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction. Latency for 5G is predicted to be below 10 milliseconds and in best cases around 1 millisecond.4G has higher latency as compared to 5G. Latency for 4G is around 20-30 milliseconds.
5G uses millimetre wave spectrum which enables more devices to be used within the same geographic area supporting around one million per square kilometre.4G supports a lesser number of devices of about 4,000 devices per square kilometre.
5G uses a new digital technology that improves coverage, speed and capacity.4G has led to more congestion and lesser coverage as compared to 5G.
 Advantages of 5G:
  • High speed use cases: 5G will help speed up a range of applications such as enhanced consumer experience via high quality streaming, faster storage and access of cloud by businesses, better communication between public institutions and citizens.
  • Ultra-low latency: Latency refers to the time it takes for one device to send a packet of data to another device. In 4G the latency rate is around 50 milliseconds but 5G will reduce that to about 1 millisecond.
  • Massive Internet of Things (IoT): 5G is meant to seamlessly connect which is easily showcased in areas like Smart City Infrastructure and Traffic Management, Industrial Automation, Wearables and Mobile devices, Precision agriculture etc.
  • Agricultural applications: 5g technology can be used for agriculture and smart farming in future. Using smart RFID sensors and GPS technology, farmers can track location of livestock and manage them easily. Smart sensors can be used for irrigation control, access control and energy management.
  • Healthcare and mission critical applications: 5G technology will support medical practitioners to perform advanced medical procedures with reliable wireless network connected to another side of the globe. Doctors can connect with patients from anywhere anytime and advise them when necessary. Scientists are working on smart medical devices which can perform remote surgery. Smart medical devices like wearable devices will continuously monitor a patient’s condition and activate alerts during an emergency.
  • Expensive spectrum: Indian spectrum prices are some of the highest in the world and the allocated quantity is well below global best practices, while 40% of the spectrum is lying unsold.
  • Lack of uniform policy framework: Delays due to complex procedures across states, non-uniformity of levies along with administrative approvals have impacted telecom service providers in rolling-out Optical Fibre Cables (OFC) and telecom towers.
  • Debt scenario in the industry: According to ICRA, the collective debt of telecommunications service providers (TSPs) stands at Rs 4.2 lakh crore.
  • Low optical fibre penetration: India lacks a strong backhaul to transition to 5G. Backhaul is a network that connects cell sites to central exchange. As of now 80% of cell sites are connected through microwave backhaul, while under 20% sites are connected through fibre.
  • High Import of Equipments: Imports account for a 90 per cent of India’s telecom equipment market. However due to lack of local manufacturing and R&D, Indian telecom providers have no option other than to procure and deploy 5G technologies from foreign suppliers.
Way forward:
  • India should not miss the opportunity and should proactively work to deploy 5g technology. We should focus on strengthening our cyber infrastructure. Funds should be allocated and local technology and telecom firms should be incentivised to develop their internal capacities which would in turn help 5G technology succeed in the country. 5g start-ups that enable this design and manufacturing capabilities should be promoted.

Dialing Mains:

Question: What is the difference between 5G and 4G technology? Discuss Advantages of 5G technology for India?

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