Looking forward to fifth generation
With the announcement of an auction for 5G by the Union Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on June 3, India looks at the trials that will be conducted before 5G is finally rolled out, as early as next year. Going by Union Minister's say, the government intends to begin trials in the next 100 days. The Huawei impasse – Huawei seeking a reply from India on 5G trial participation which India has stalled due to security concerns given the nature of Sino-India relationship – is one of the pivotal decisions needed to be taken regarding 5G. The next generation cellular technology capable of providing faster data with ultra-low latency, 5G is indeed a giant leap forward. 5G is expected to offer a peak data speed of 1 Gigabyte per second – 900 per cent faster than 4G's max data speed – which is capable of downloading a 5GB movie in 40 seconds as compared to 4G which would take about 7-8 minutes. The questions India must answer before its citizens see 5G is the infrastructure support as well as spectrum cost to be born by communication corporations. The government was quick to launch a programme in 2018 to advance innovation and research regarding 5G at the cost of Rs 224 crore. Ericsson has contributed to the cause by setting up a 5G test bed at IIT Delhi to understand utility and applications specific to India. 5G is expected to provide an aggregate economic impact reaching as high as a trillion dollars by 2035. The auction of the spectrum will yield a major revenue for the government with the regulator-recommended fixed price of Rs 492 crore per MHz set for pan-India. The reserve price of 5G spectrum is exorbitant as per telecom companies such as Airtel and Vodafone. They argue that India should first develop the scenario for 5G before 5G spectrum is put on sale. Amidst the advancement that India has witnessed in cellular reach and data-consumption, the advent of 5G remains an exciting prospect. It goes without saying that 5G will highly benefit the vast user-base besides also been used for deprived sections, education, et al, services which are increasingly getting integrated with data-driven technology. Under Modi's term, data-consumption has witnessed a stark rise and 5G will definitely augur well in his second. But just as technology allures us, security concerns make us wary of it. The 2G scam will always be a hard lesson for India. India is set to connect the rural-urban divide with technology – telecommunication and data – even as opportunities and wealth widen it. A smooth implementation of 5G following successful trials will give India the bed-rock to catapult its progress. In the era of IoT (Internet of Things), 5G is an upgrade that will expedite the proliferation of IoT devices, inducing technology in almost everything as per the scope of IoT while transforming society into a data hub of all sorts. The future is exciting indeed.