30% of the world’s nations have already implemented 5G commercially. Meanwhile, India is undergoing trials of the 5G network. Telcos were supposed to conclude 5G trials by November 2021, but they asked for additional time till May 2022 due to COVID-19 and regulatory issues. While the trials are going on, companies are focused on rural connectivity as it appears that the majority customer base is in rural areas.
One of the reasons behind the delay is spectrum allocation. Spectrum prices are extremely high. Other than Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone will have to shed billions of capital to buy spectrum. The auction is expected to take place sometime in 2022, but if telcos are in the trial phase then the timeline will further be delayed.
Are We There?
The 5G ecosystem needs seamless fibre connectivity, network security and regulatory approvals. Given that only 30-40% of India has fibre connectivity today, the 5G technology will need a wider reach. For better service, telcos will require cybersecurity companies to build and deploy monitoring systems and security protocols. Even after all of this comes into place, the regulatory regime needs to be fast-tracked, considering the legal system at times moves at a slower pace as compared to other nations.
What Lies Ahead?
The entire world is moving at a fast pace towards technology and innovation. India will have to gather its speed in order to adopt all the new changes and modifications. For now, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said that the major cities in India — Gurugram, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jamnagar, Ahmadabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune, and Gandhi Nagar — would be among the first few cities to enjoy 5G services in 2022. It’s expected by this year-end, the network will finally be available to the public.