For some time, the fifth generation of telecommunication networks, or 5G, has stood as one of the most critical building blocks to advance our digital economy and connected transformation.
With far more robust wireless infrastructure, we’ll connect clouds to edges, and masses of devices to people right across the globe. Yet, more importantly, we’ll need less energy to power it all, when compared to 4G.
India is expected to have around 500 million subscriptions by 2027. However, the existing infrastructural challenges in the market remain a prominent hurdle to the seamless implementation of 5G in the country. If we can successfully open the “floodgates” of opportunity for organisations in a digitally transformed age, 5G will boost a sustainable transition, support critical economic recovery, and power economies of the future.
A game-changer for technological development
The demands for ever more connectivity require ever more data transfer power. To address this demand, 5G will deliver ultra-fast connection speeds and gigantic bandwidth to drive companies’ efficiency and innovation potential.
All the futuristic technologies we’ve long been hearing about are increasingly making a real-world impact. Heavy data users like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Extended Reality (XR) will benefit just as much as high-precision tools like remote surgery and self-driving cars, which rely on ultra-low latency standards.
The full rollout of 5G means consumers will also be able to fully enjoy a huge variety of smart devices at home, like smart kitchen and smart home security,roofs that detect storm damage, and trash cans that ask to be emptied. Out in public, we can begin to expect a heads-up on open parking spaces or active air-quality warnings. For India’s farming and food production community, precision agriculture can help create efficiencies like never before through providing real-time, high speed communications among sensors and devices, enhancing business and consumer experience and choice.
More than just upgrading wireless communications ecosystems, 5G will boost global innovation by connecting to other technologies like edge computing. Together, varying, but connected systems will enable huge amounts of data to be wirelessly processed in real-time—anywhere in the world.
Boosting a sustainable transition
Perhaps even more important is the role of 5G inputting digital transformation on a sustainable pathway to reduce global emissions up to 15% by 2030. This will go far to cut costs, energy usage, emissions, and waste.
Right now, throughput limitations force 4G network devices to work at full capacity, resulting in constant energy inefficiency. The increased capacity of 5G enables a 90% reduction in network energy usage and perhaps 10 years’ worth of battery life for low power IoT devices.
From energy distribution to challenges in food provision, IoT applications powered by 5G offer many other innovative solutions to sustainability. For example, 5G IoT smart grids will help solve issues with the last 5 km distribution, made more complex by the integration of renewable energy sources. The logically independent networks, enabled by 5G,allows the smart grid to meet different service needs with better coverage.
Agriculture represents another exciting opportunity. By deploying a massive number of interconnected sensors that remotely collect and analyse precise data from crops, machinery, and livestock, the industry will benefit from optimised yields at far less cost.
Now is the time
Building sustainable 5G networks is no small feat, even compared to past telecom generations. It’s a massive undertaking that requires considerable public and private support for new infrastructure, devices, and services. Despite the costs, it’s critical to future-proof the economy and sustain competitiveness.
Some doubt whether 5G really is something we need for ourselves or industry. Though hard to imagine, think back to the time of dial-up performance. Now, contrast that experience with cable internet. That dramatic jump doesn’t even come close to the leap forward we can expect from the 4 to 5G transition.
It’s not just about speed, though. Data capacity and speed together will enable a radically new spectrum of possibilities.
Initiatives like the 5G High-Level Forum are crucial in creating a 5G ecosystem in India, as they work to ensure India's role in the global 5G movement while facilitating other initiatives like Digital India, Smart Cities, and Smart Village. A developmental coalition model—including a comprehensive group of experts who understand how to build modern systems that go beyond the specific needs of telecom operators—is the best approach to ensure we build comprehensive networks.
In short—we all must work together to invest in a mobile future that will offer considerable opportunities and inclusivity going forward. With the right tools and know-how in place, societies of today will not only recover but evolve to prosper.
Saurabh Tewari is the director & chief technology officer (Telecom) at Dell Technologies, India.