IAS Gyan



10th December, 2020 Mains


Reliance Industries Chairman said that policy steps are needed to accelerate early rollout of 5G, and to make it affordable and available everywhere, adding that as many as 300 million mobile subscribers are still trapped in the 2G era. Jio will pioneer the 5G revolution in India in the second half of 2021.

Wireless communication technology has grown and advanced significantly over the years through research and innovation. The time has come when we can connect various wireless technologies, networks, and applications simultaneously.  This latest technology is called 5G. The fifth-generation wireless system (or 5G for short) is now the next generation of wireless communication systems


  • World of telecommunication has witnessed drastic changes starting from 1G to 2.5G and from 3G to 5G.
  • 1G: analog telecommunications standard introduced in the 1970s for voice communications with a data rate up to 2.4 kps. It used FM and FDMA and a bandwidth of 30 kHz. The major problems with 1G are poor voice quality, poor battery quality, and large phone size.    
  • 2G: digital standard, circuit switched technology introduced in 1980s. It used CDMA, GSM, and TDMA technologies.  It could only transmit digital voice at 64 kbps, and not data such as email.  
  • 2.5G and 2.75G: 2.5G introduced a new packet-switching technique that was more efficient than 2G technology. This led to 2.75G, which provided a theoretical threefold speed increase. 2.5G and 2.75G were not defined formally as wireless standards. They served mostly as marketing tools to promote new cell phone features to the public.
  • 3G: used Code Division Multiple Access Technique (CDMA). It introduced high-speed Internet access. It used technologies such as W-CDMA and HSPA (high speed packet access).  It provided IP connectivity for real-time and non-real-time services.   
  • 4G: works the same as 3G and may be regarded as the extension of 3G but with a faster Internet connection, more bandwidth, and a lower latency. 4G technologies such as WiMAX and LTE (Long-Term Evolution), claim to be about five times faster than 3G services. 


  • As any other  cellular  network,  5G networks  will consist  of cells divided into sectors and send data through radio waves.
  • 5G may  transmit  data  over  the unlicensed frequencies currently used for Wi-Fi. It promises a smarter, faster, and efficient network. 
  • In order to increase network efficiency, the cell is subdivided into micro and pico cells.
  • 5G will  be  a  new  mobile  revolution  as  it  is  expected  to provide gigabit-per-second data rates anytime, anywhere. 
  • In a 5G wireless network, every mobile phone will have an IPv6 address depending on the location and network  being used.
  • 5G utilizes  user-centric  network  concept  World  Wide Wireless Web (WWWW) instead of operator- centric as in 3G or service-centric as  in 4G.   
  • 5G includes  the  latest  technologies  such cognitive radio, Internet of things, nanotechnology, and cloud computing.   

5G technology has the following advanced features:

  1. Architecture will  be  device-centric,  distributed, programmable, and cloud-based
  2. High data rates
  3. One to 10 Gbps connections to end points
  4. One millisecond end-to-end round trip delay
  5. Low battery consumption
  6. Better connectivity irrespective of location
  7. Larger number of supporting devices
  8. Lower cost of infrastructure development
  9. High throughput, improved spectrum efficiency, reduced latency, better mobility support, and high  connection  density

 Major technologies enabling 5G include:

  • D2D Communication:    Direct  connectively  is achieved  through  device-to-device  (D2D)    5G cellular network  will  implement  D2D  mm  wave communication  technology  to provide  high  speed data  rate, improve  coverage,  and  offer  peer-to-peer  services.  Much research  effort  has  been  invested  of  characterizing  D2D connections as part of LTE.
  • M2M Communication:  While  D2D  communication targets  mobile  radios,  machine-to-machine  (M2M)  expands the  scope  and  facilitates  ubiquitous  connectivity  among mobile    It is  estimated  that there  will  be  over 100 billion connected devices using M2M communications in 5G backbone.
  • MIMO: Multiple-input-multiple-output  (MIMO) technology plays a crucial role in 4G and is expected to play an  important  function  in    Massive  MIMO  extracts  the benefits  of  MIMO  on  a  large  scale  by  increasing  the throughput and spectrum efficiency.
  • Other enabling  technologies  of  5G  include  mmWave communication,  ultra-dense  network  (UDN),  all-spectrum access  (ASA),  OFDM  (orthogonal  frequency  division multiplexing), and Internet of things.



 Some  of  the  significant  applications  of  5G  wireless technologies include:

  • Virtual reality/augmented reality/tactile Internet
  • Autonomous driving/connected cars
  • Wireless cloud-based  office/multiple-person videoconferencing
  • Unified global standard for all
  • Network availability anywhere anytime
  • Blockchain
  • 3D and ultra HD videos
  • Smart gird
  • Smart surgery and remote medical examination
  • Mobile security
  • In addition,  5G  will allow  one  to  pay  all  bills in  a  single payment with his/her mobile and vote from his/her mobile. 


  • Faster speed:  Data  transfer  speeds  with  5G  are projected  to be about  10 times higher with 4G. That  means significantly faster transmission of images and videos.
  • Shorter delays: 5G should reduce latency (the time between  cause and  effect).   This  will  make  it  possible, for example,  to  watch high-speed  virtual  reality  video  with no delays.
  • Increased connectivity:  5G  technology  would  will bring faster, more reliable connections for users than 4G/LTE. That  means  more  people  and  devices  will  be  able  to communicate at the same time.
  • Besides these benefits, 5G has excellent capability to support both software and consultancy.
  • It  has high  data rate  at the edge of the cell and better coverage area.
  • It has low battery consumption. 
  • It is  beneficial  for  the  government,  as  it can make governance easier, and for the citizen, as it can provide Internet connectivity anytime anywhere.




  • The transition  from  4G  to  5G  presents  several transformational  challenges  which  must  be  tackled  to fully realize the 5G vision.
  • There are challenges faced with the new technologies enabling 5G.
  • There are also challenges with the integration of this technology to provide services in different application scenarios.  
  • Some have criticized 5G for its high projected cost and that it is incompatible  with the previous   
  • Just as 2G phones could not connect to 3G or 4G networks,  3G and 4G phones will not connect to a 5G network. One is forced to buy a  new  phone  which  is  likely  to  be  more  expensive  than 4G/LTE   
  • Physical objects block 5G signals easier than 4G, and, even when unobstructed, 5G signals do not carry as far. This means that more towers are needed to support a comprehensive network. While a few 4G towers might support a moderately-sized city, with 5G, dozens will likely be needed, as towers are required throughout the service area to maximize coverage.
  • One remaining hurdle is the usage and popularization of 5G-capable phones and devices.

To  address  these  challenges,  we  need  a drastic change in  the design of cellular architecture. We also need  to  meet  5G  system  performance  requirements  such Mfentocells, stringent  latency, network scalability, very  long battery life,  and green communications.  It  is a  challenge to satisfy  these requirements  and  minimize  costs  at  the  same time. 



  • In April, South Korea and the U.S. became the first countries to commercially launch 5G services. South Korea claimed it was the first to do so, beating the U.S. by a couple of hours, a claim disputed by U.S carriers. China too has handed out commercial 5G licences to its major carriers earlier than expected.
  • More than 150 pre-commercial 5G trials are underway around the world. A major showcase was in South Korea, where Korea Telecom, working with Samsung Electronics, Intel and Ericsson demonstrated a 5G network during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
  • In the US, Verizon and AT&T are carrying out 5G trials (both mobile and fixed access) across several cities.
  • Several trials are also underway in China. In Europe, several trials are underway with a focus on delivering services to high speed vehicular subscribers like cars on motorways and intercity trains.



  • India’s history with wireless services began early.
  • The first experimental wireless telegraphy links were demonstrated as early as 1902.
  • A Department of Wireless Telegraph was created soon thereafter, and wireless telegraphy came into routine use in Calcutta at Diamond Harbour in 1908.
  • The first mobile phone service was launched in 1985 on a non-commercial basis, but it was only in 1995 that commercial service was started.
  • The initial subscriber growth was modest, however new policy initiatives, beginning 2007, spurred rapid growth with the subscriber base reaching 560 million in 2009 and well over a billion by 2017.
  • Early deployment of mobile networks was based on 2G technology, with 3G technology entering service in 2010 and 4G in 2016.
  • 4G networks now serve 240 million subscribers in urban areas across the country.
  • LTE coverage in rural areas remains a challenge.
  • 4G link speeds in India are picking up, averaging 6-7 Mbps as compared to 25 Mbps in advanced countries.
  • The Government has launched a program titled ‘Building an End-to-End 5G Test Bed’ to advance innovation and research in 5G. This three year program began in March 2018, with a budget authorization of Rs 2,240 million. The program has been awarded to IIT Madras, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur, CEWIT, SAMEER and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. The program envisages close collaboration between the universities and small technology companies. The goal of the program is to build proof-of-concept 5G prototypes that are broadly compliant with the 3GPP standards. Several smaller academic R&D programs around 5G themes have also been funded by DST and MEITY.
  • Ericsson has installed the first public access 5G test bed at IIT Delhi in July 2018 for developing applications in the broadband and low latency areas providing access to the industry and institutions to work on India specific usage scenarios and applications.
  • On the standards front, DoT and TSDSI in collaboration with the IITs have been successful in getting the Large Cell Low Mobility (LMLC) use case accepted in the IMT 2020 requirements.
  • 5G High Level Forum was set up by the Government in 2017 to articulate the Vision for 5G in India and to recommend policy initiatives and action plans to realize this vision. It aims to achieve a globally-competitive product development and manufacturing ecosystem targeting 50% of India’s market and 10% of global market over 5-7 years.
  • Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has formed the 5G India Forum (5GIF) that is expected to serve as a national initiative where all stakeholders, private and public, small and large, can meet and discuss the challenges of making 5G a reality in India, in conjunction with leaders of the rest of the world.
  • The National Digital Communication Policy-2018 (NDCP-2018) also lays out the following objectives with respect to 5G services in India: Enabling Hi-speed internet, Internet of Things and M2M (Machine to machine) by rollout of several 5G technologies etc.

5G Relevance to India:

  • 5G has been designed for global adoption with flexibility to support wide number of applications.
  • Its adoption in India will involve many use cases adopted widely in the world, but also some unique applications to suit India’s needs.
  • 5G’s value for India may be even higher than in advanced countries because of the lower levels of investments in physical infrastructure.
  • 5G may offer ‘leapfrog’ opportunities by providing ‘smart infrastructure’ that offers lower cost and faster infrastructure delivery.
  • 5G technologies will offer even more opportunities in infrastructure efficiencies. For example, 5G will enable ‘vehicle platooning’, a technology that exploits 5G’s low latency communication capability to pack vehicles into platoons with low inter-vehicle spacing despite travelling at high speeds.
  • 5G will allow rapid coordination between the vehicles and keep the vehicles in the platoon safe. Platooning can double vehicle density in roads promoting efficient and safer use of the limited road infrastructure.
  • In manufacturing, 5G will enable use of robotics for precision manufacturing, particularly where humans cannot perform these functions safely or with the necessary precision.
  • 5G can also enable better logistics to track goods from raw materials to product delivery and improved sharing of expensive design and manufacturing resources across the country.
  • In agriculture, 5G can enable improvement in the entire value-chain, from precision farming, smart irrigation, improved soil and crop monitoring, to livestock management.
  • In the energy sector, ‘smart grids’ and ‘smart metering’ can be efficiently supported enabling growth of alternate energy technologies. With the rise of renewable and storage technologies, low latency communications will be critical to manage these grids.
  • In health-care, 5G can enable more effective tele-medicine delivery, tele-control of surgical robotics and wireless monitoring of vital statistics.


What will be the economic impact?

  • 5G is expected to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion in India by 2035, according to a report by a government-appointed panel. According to a separate report by telecom gear maker Ericsson, 5G-enabled digitalisation revenue potential in India will be above $27 billion by 2026. Additionally, global telecom industry GSMA has forecast that India will have about 70 million 5G connections by 2025.
  • 5G will require a fundamental change to the core architecture of the communication system. Simply upgrading the existing Long Term Evolution core will not be able to support the various requirements of all 5G use cases. A report on 5G by Deloitte stated that it is anticipated that the industry might require an additional investment of $60-70 billion to seamlessly implement 5G networks. Ernst & Young too estimated a similar amount of investment to implement 5G.
  • Two of the three private telcos, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, expressed apprehensions about the 5G auction. They pointed out that the reserve price of the airwaves is very high. Besides, there are currently no India-specific use cases for deployment of 5G.
  • Telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has also expressed concerns about the financial health of the sector amid intense competition and recent phase of consolidation. Currently, the industry’s cumulative debt is pegged at around ₹7 lakh crore.
  • The COAI has also pointed out that 5G is overpriced by at least 30% to 40% compared to international standards and auction in other markets such as South Korea and the U.S.


The  5G  wireless  technology  is  a  multipurpose  wireless network for mobile, fixed and enterprise wireless applications.  It  incorporates  all  type  of  advanced  features  that  makes  it powerful and in huge demand in near future.  It  has a bright future and  will be a revolution in the mobile market.