TRAI chairman R.S. Sharma says that as productivity of things improves, there will be an overall boom in the economy.


The Department of Telecommunications has set the ball rolling for implementation of 5G services by issuing guidelines for the trials across all available spectrum bands. The guidelines which were issued recently say that for 5G trials, “quantum of spectrum as may be necessary and/or can be justified to demonstrate the technological capabilities”. For this purpose, the Centre has already invited proposals from companies for 5G trials in India. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Committee on Digital Economic Policy, the rollout of 5G technologies will help in increasing GDP, creating employment and digitising the economy. For India, 5G provides an opportunity for the industry to reach out to global markets, and consumers to gain with the economies of scale.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has already released a white paper on “Enabling 5G in India”, which highlights the specifications of the 5G technology, discusses the potential use cases and architecture of 5G network, deliberates on those areas which will require investments for 5G deployment, covers the spectrum requirements for 5G networks, and tries to identify regulatory challenges which need to be addressed for 5G deployment. It is in consultation with industry stakeholders for enhancing the fibre network. TRAI chairman R.S. Sharma spoke to The Sunday Guardian on how the rollout of 5G would completely transform the way of communication in the country. Excerpts:

On how 5G will change the communication network in India

Telecommunication is no longer a communication between two people. A mobile phone has now become a versatile instrument whose role has extended to empowerment. It’s not only about conversation, but also a tool for banking, getting latest news, authentication (through OTP), transactions, e-governance, paying utility bills and so on. So it has become an instrument of empowerment. The data is very empowering. It enables transactions. Telecommunication is now UPI/Aadhaar enabler. So far, we have been using 2G, 3G or 4G. But after the rollout of 5G, telecommunication will reach at a new level. It will take technology at a different level. It will provide “high throughout” to data.

On how 5G will improve efficiency and productivity

5G has very low latency, which means the time taken for transmission of the data will be reduced to milli-seconds. Latency is gap time, or transmission time for packet of data. When we stream a live event with a 3G or 5G connection, the video is actually slightly behind what is actually happening. This affects not just delivery, but response time too. With 5G, we can see the event almost at the same time. It will also facilitate machine-to-machine (M to M) communication. Thus, you can see driverless cars on the road, and surgery being performed from remote locations. It will give a fillip to the automation of whole industrial set-ups. It will lead to “Industry 4.0”, which refers to the concept of factories in which machines are augmented with wireless connectivity and sensors, connected to a system which can visualise the entire production line and make decisions on its own. All this will improve efficiency and productivity in a big way. Internet speed will become very fast and will transform each and every sector which will help us in each and every sector, be it agriculture, irrigation, education, bio informatics etc. All this will lead to a new breed of applications which will improve productivity. You will see its use in the Smart City project, energy management, solid waste management etc. As the productivity of many things will improve, there is going to be an overall boom in the economy.

On India’s preparedness for 5G

Standards for IMT 2020 (International Mobile Telecommunications 2020) are being finalised and trials for the technologies are in progress all over the world. So far, 5G has become operational in countries like South Korea, China etc, while it is at different stages in many countries. For introducing it in India, the government had set up a task force. TRAI submitted its recommendations to it. The task force has given its report. We do not want to lag behind. India is readying itself for the launch of 5G.

On how has been response of the industry and by when can we see start of operations

They are all excited. We are creating enabling conditions for industry use cases.

Ericson has started trials. But it depends on the industry when the operations would start.

On reservations about allowing Huawei to do trials in India

It is up to the government to frame policy. It’s not our domain.


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