New Delhi: At the pavilion of Reliance Jio in the ongoing India Mobile Congress (IMC), a doctor sitting in a remote location can be seen carrying out a ‘live ultrasound’ of patients using the 5G network that offers internet speed of over 4,000 MBPS with latency level – or lag – of 4 milliseconds.
At another location, Bharti AirtelNSE 0.81 % is showcasing a use-case over 5G that ‘virtually transports’ a person sitting in a remote location to simply besides you using Microsoft’s hologram augmented-reality wearable device.
Welcome to the world of 5G. As telecom networks start migrating to super-fast internet that promises lightning speeds, India has started taking its own baby steps to give birth to the new-age technology, and thereafter build its own use cases.
While trials will begin over the next few months — coordinated by the telecom ministry, network equipment companies and mobile service providers — commercial on-ground rollout will happen only by 2020, or a little later, when 5G spectrum is made available and device and equipment ecosystem come into play.
Top telecom companies such as Reliance Jio, Vodafone India and Bharti Airtel are showcasing consumer as well as enterprise-use cases by teaming up with equipment providers such as Samsung, Huawei, and Ericsson.
At the inauguration session of the conference attended by Reliance Jio chairman Mukesh Ambani, Airtel chief Sunil Mittal and Vodafone-Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, Jio and Samsung had teamed up to capture the video of people entering the pavilion through a large ‘skyship’ which not only gave a 360-degree view but even gave automatic details of the persons seen in it through facial-recognition capability.
Jay Chen, CEO of Chinese equipment maker Huawei India, says trials will begin across a few cities soon as the government offers 5G spectrum in the 3300-3600 MHz band for testing. “We are preparing for a variety of applications, and are confident that as the use-cases start building up, 5G will start finding a space and need in the mainstream.”
Samsung, which has set up the telecom network for Reliance Jio, is already showing a variety of applications, including some that it is building up globally such as the ‘5G kiosks’ on US highways that let users download content at lightning speeds while on the move.
So, what can an ordinary mobile consumer expect from a 5G rollout. “The consumers can surely expect to see a massive incremental growth in mobile-usage experience as well as the internet speed and applications. For example, 4K videos and content based on augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) will be accessed easily on 5G networks. This will be an immersive experience for users,” says Nunzio Mirtillo, head of South-East Asia, Oceania and India of Swedish equipment major Ericsson. “On the enterprise side, expect tremendous upside in the machine-to-machine conversations, which have use-cases in hospitals for things such as remote surgeries, agriculture, smart manufacturing, mining etc.”
The government plans to offer 5G spectrum in the 3,300-3,600 MHz frequency, while also exploring other bands. Companies say that to experience 5G services, consumers will need to upgrade their devices — for example smartphones — to read the new frequency.
5G will also become important as Internet of Things (IoT), where virtually everything around you — right from household devices to your car — will correspond with each other. “To carry such massive amounts of data, and process it further, the network has to be of very high speed with low latency, as low as 1 millisecond against 20-40 millisecond currently. Such low latency is also important for applications such as autonomous driving and remote surgery where there can be no lag in the delivery of command.”
But despite important usecases, the only serious reason that can delay the rollout of 5G will be stressed financial position of telecom companies. After the rollout of mobile services by Reliance Jio at cut-throat prices, all major operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea and BSNL are in losses. “Their capacity to invest in new technologies is limited and most of their fresh funding will need to be directed towards augmenting their existing 4G network,” said industry officials.
(This article was originally published in The Times of India)