When 5G mobile networks come to India, they will
use a new radio technology and a different network architecture to deliver
higher bandwidth and lower latency than 4G (LTE) and 3G networks we have today.
5G promises peak data speeds of up to 10 Gbps – up to 100 times faster than
the 100 Mbps of 4G. Latency, a measure of the time it takes data to travel
from the phone to the distant server, could be less than a millisecond in 5G
networks, or 60-120 times better than 4G
· * Digital networks would need expansion
to connect half of world’s population
· * Nearly half of the world still remains
un-connected in 2020
· * India still needs to connect 55% of
· * Significant investment in digital
network quality is required to support new applications
· * 1.8 bn connections of 5G needed by
2025 for 20% penetration
· * The digital network will need to reach
everyone at scale and quality
· * 4-5X Internet Mobile traffic more
digital kilometres more digital lanes - With high capacity fibre cables, 5G
· * Millions of new users - more digital
kilometres - Connect every home, every enterprise
· * 3X Mobile Data speeds – superior
speeds, response – Using software to manage network traffic (copper + wireless
All Network Creators
Investing Heavily in Digital Infrastructure
· * May 2020 - China
mobile to invest $14 Bn in building digital infrastructure enabling faster 5G
· * May 2020 - BT
to invest $12 Bn in building 5G and next generation full fibre broadband across
· * March 2020 - Verizon
to invest $18.5 Bn to accelerate its 5G plans globally
· * June 2020 - Airtel
to double its fixed line penetration in next three years
· * May 2020 - Microsoft
to invest $15 Bn to accelerate digital transformation in Italy including its
first data center region.
· * March 2020 - Google
to invest $10 Bn in US offices and data centres in 2020 - Sets up a us $10
billion for India
· * Enterprise spectrum sees huge demand
in US, UK, Germany.
· * Many companies have applied to set up
local 5G networks.
· * Indian Govt. aims to provide 5,00,000
FTTH connections by Sept 2020 (part of BharatNet) FCC, US launched rural
digital opportunity fund worth $20 bn.
· * KKR in partnership with Telecom Italia to invest
$7-8 Bn in Open Fibre deal.
* EQT in partnership with OMERS to invest $4 Bn to acquire a fibre optic internet access company in Germany.
5G Network Rollouts
Telcos continue to be bullish about 5G spend
· * T-Mobile, US
announced plans to spend $ 60 bn. on deploying 5G networks over the next 5
· * Chinese telecom
companies have announced massive tenders for 5G rollouts in this Quarter (~
· * As of May 2020,
there are approx. 300 operators investing in 5G commercial services
5G Rollouts have accelerated
· * 11 operators have
launched 5G in 2020 (till May).
· * Bell Canada
launched 5G in June.
· * T-Mobile, Poland
and Three, Sweden launched 5G in June.
· * In HongKong, 3
operators have rolled out 5G post April 2020.
Customers are adopting 5G at unprecedented rates
· * Deutsche Telekom
has reached 16 mn subscribers.
· * Chinese Telecom
Companies added 22mn 5G subscribers in 1 month (June 2020).
· * South Korea has
added more than half a million 5G subs in 1 month (May 2020).
5G is launched in few countries and under testing in many countries. According
OpenSignal survey, US and Switzerland top the chart in 5G speed. U.S. users
with 1,816 Mbps 5G speed which 2.7 times as fast as 4G users’ fastest speed.
Switzerland came to the 2nd place with its early 5G adopters seeing speeds up
to 1,145 Mbps which is 2.6 times fast than regular 4G users. Recently many
smartphones makers has launched their 5G devices which are quite expensive.
How are Indian operators preparing for 5G
Reliance Jio launched its 4G service in 2016, skipping
over the 2G and 3G technologies offered by rivals Airtel, Vodafone Idea and
BSNL. Now it’s counting on its modern network infrastructure to make it one of
the first to offer 5G service. Jio has the network and backhaul in place,
needing only to invest in spectrum and equipment. Jio is also the only operator
with an all-IP network, an important requirement for launching 5G
services. It will conduct 5G trials with Samsung, the supplier of its 4G network,
and has said it will extend its partnerships for 5G trials to include Huawei,
Ericsson, and Nokia.
In July 2020, Google said it would invest Rs 33,737
crore (USD 4.5 billion) in Jio to support the operator’s upgrade. Jio
also has support from Qualcomm and Intel for its 5G plan. The latter two
are Jio’s hardware enablers: Chipmaker Qualcomm is expected to offer deep
technology know-how and insights to drive the 5G vision. Intel has advanced
edge computing offering across processors and access to this technology can
help Jio pace the 5G rollout. Google and Jio have come to a commercial
agreement, where they would work together on an entry-level Android smartphone
with 4G and possibly 5G capabilities.
Jio has designed its end-to-end 5G solutions from scratch
using homegrown technologies. While it hasn’t given out details of its 5G
solution, it expects to position itself to be an exporter of 5G systems as
complete managed services in the near future.According to telecom experts, Jio could
theoretically have a 15% cost advantage in 5G rollout if it uses self-built
software. But there is a high possibility that Jio will extend partnerships
with existing Indian providers in the 5G space to offer these solutions.
Airtel has said it will work with Huawei, ZTE,
Ericsson, and Nokia on its trials. It has deployed 100 hops of 5G
technology transmission equipment supplied by Huawei, improving its backhaul
capacity by a factor of four, and has struck deals withCisco and Ericsson to speed up its core network in readiness
for 5G service.
Vodafone Idea will conduct its trials with Huawei, ZTE,
Ericsson, and Nokia, and is already using 5G AI technology from Huawei to boost
the capabilities of its 4G network
Several Indian companies across
software and technology solutions have already been rolling out their own
global 5G solutions. From Tech Mahindra, Cyient, ITI Ltd to Sterlite
Technologies Ltd and Saankhya Labs, these companies have built 5G expertise
across core telecom solutions such as virtual radio access networks (VRAN),
Open RAN (ORAN), chipsets and hardware, which Jio can possibly tap into for its
In fact, Jio’s Japanese peer Rakuten is
already in talks with a number of Indian providers for their 5G solutions and
experts estimate Jio will also onboard additional solutions from these
to a UBS Evidence Lab survey from December 2019, 59% of telcos were already
using network virtualization and 51% were willing to work with non-traditional
vendors, suggesting these trends are opening ways for niche players, such as
Jio, to get a share of global telco capex spend.
Network virtualization solutions can only work
with a strong optical fibre cable (OFC) backbone. One of the leading
OFC manufacturers globally, Sterlite Technologies Ltd (STL), has evolved
from core manufacturing to digital networks services through acquisitions
across software solutions over the past years to include solutions for
virtualized access, network software products and system integration services.
Another homegrown company, Saankhya Labs,
also owns intellectual property and provides radio units and chipsets for
Tech Mahindra has a 17% stake in telecom
software provider Altiostar, which is already rolling out cloud-based solutions
for Japanese telco Rakuten. Globally, the company has been offering solutions across
software-defined and cloud native networks, adoption of disaggregated networks
and VRAN, among others, across markets in US, Europe and Japan.
Recently, Tech Mahindra announced a partnership
with ITI, which has large manufacturing facilities, to enable manufacturing
of 4G equipment and work on building capabilities for 5G equipment for the
Another Indian company that has been present in
this space is Cyient which provides intelligent network solutions for global
telcos and is closely involved in 5G rollouts across Australia, South
Korea, US and Europe among others apart from multiple telecom carriers globally.