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July 14, 2020

Essay : Digital Revolution - 5G Technology in India

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Is India Ready for 5G Technology ?

The methods of communication between humans, their methods of acquiring knowledge, working, thinking and other interactions have all changed in recent years due to the availability of the interne supported by the worldwide mobile revolution. The current level of technology which has been standardized in mobile communication is termed '4G' or 4th generation. But the current work ethos and expectations of people demand a better technology in which they can connect to multiple wireless technologies, networks, terminals and applications, all simultaneously. The situation also demands that we should be able to switch between each of them and still remain compatible with earlier technology generation devices such as 4G, 3G or even 2G. This latest technology has been named as 5G, or 5th generation wireless systems.

5G networks may be defined as advanced mobile communication technology networks which will have low latency, meaning that they will be optimized to process a very high volume of data messages with minimal delay or latency. These networks are designed to support operations that require almost real-time access to rapidly changing data. Some of the characteristics of and performance expected from such networks includes: upto 10 GBPS (Gigabits per second) peak data rate: a hundred times improvement over 4G networks, 1-millisecond latency, 1000X bandwidth per unit area, upto 100X number of connected devices per unit area compared with 4G, 99.999% availability, 100% coverage, 90% reduction in network energy usage, very low power consumption by devices and very high network reliability through the use of superior router and switch technology.

The above information is tentative, as the actual features of 5G technology are yet to be finalized. As the system will be used all over the world ultimately, the specifications will be spelt out by the specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies, called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It is likely that these specifications will be finalized before the end of 2019 so that the technology can be launched in 2020 in some countries. 

To understand the need for 5G technology, we should understand how its features are an improvement over the speed and features of 4G and 3G technology. To be labelled as 3G, a network is required to meet a set of technical standards for speed and reliability, and must offer peak data transfer. rates of at least 200 KBPS (kilo-bits per second). However, current 3G networks offer peak data transfer rates of 2 MBPS (megabits per second) or more. On the other hand, a 4G network must offer peak data rates of at least 100 MBPS for high mobility users such as those traveling in cars, trains etc. The speed of 4G networks should increase to at least 1 GBPS for low mobility users such as pedestrians and stationary users. In contrast, 5G networks will offer peak data rates of at least 10 GBPS.

Due to the increased speed, 5G networks will support high speed applications such as Internet of Things (IoT), which are either not available or available in rudimentary form in 4G or 3G networks. Such networks will enable a massive improvement in Telemedicine technologies, enable effective remote surgery, enable self-driving cars, open up new possibilities in Drone technology and also make home broadband customers happier as their network speed will become more than three times faster. 5G will enable critical control of remote devices, broadband experience anywhere and anytime, as well as smart vehicles, transport and infrastructure. It will help incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our daily lives. 

There are a number of critical requirements to be fulfilled for a 5G network to replace a 4G network. This includes the requirements for handsets to be used. An important requirement for the 5G network is backward compatibility with 4G and 3G handsets. This means that older 4G and 3G handsets should be usable on a 5G network, of course with reduced functionality and speed. Similarly, a 5G handset should be usable on older networks with reduced speed and functionality. 

Another requirement for 5G networks is that they should be able to support all communication needs from low power LANs to WANs with the right latency and speed. Thus they must be designed to allow simple virtual network configurations to better align network costs with applications needs. This new approach will allow 5G mobile network operators to be used for IoT applications by being able to deliver cost effective solutions for low broadband, low power applications. 

The 5G handsets will be significantly different from the current 4G handsets, according to most manufacturers of handsets. Although no manufacturer has finalised the design of these handsets because the specifications of 5G networks have not yet been frozen by ITU, some features not available in 4G handsets will be required. Some of these are as follows :
  • Distributed Antenna System To maintain the data speed required for 5G, handsets will have a number of antennas in them, instead of a single antenna in 4G handsets, for receiving the data and processing it faster. 
  • Additional Cameras and a Projection System For Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications such as online games and IoT functionality, the handsets will need a projection system and additional cameras.
There are a number of challenges in deploying the 5G networks. New equipment with faster computing and data transfer ability will need to be developed by the mobile service providers. It will be then used to upgrade their underlying hardware countrywide in order to provide 5G speeds. As this can't happen overnight, they would use the 4G infrastructure to eventually migrate to 5G. However, the frequency allocation for 5G networks is in a different frequency band than 4G, being in the millimeter wave region, i.e. from 28 GHz to 100 GHz. In addition, new software applications (called 'Apps') will need to be developed to provide the additional functionality which 5G provides. Thus, ev( n when 5G networks are deployed, it will take the telecom companies abcut two years to achieve the speeds and functionality 5G promises. 

India is getting ready to welcome the advent of 5G technology networks in the country. The Government of India has established a forum to develop the roadmap for the launch of this technology in 2020. It has also allocated 2224 crores for the creation of a 5G testbed to be established in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and an IIT. The government has already started providing high speed broadband internet services in rural and urban areas. Under the Smart Cities Project of the Union Government, a number of cities have been identified to be developed as 'Smart Cities' and one village in the state of Rajasthan has been selected for development as a 'Smart Village'. These will require 5G technology networks for proper and efficient functioning. The IoT applications of 5G networks will need to be extensively used in such places.

Private sector telecom operators are also gearing up to launch 5G services within six months of being allocated the necessary spectrum for this purpose. However, these' service providers will need to upgrade the basic networks from microwave to fibre, as fibre has an immensely larger data carrying capacity. The existing microwave technologies can no longer support the required capacities. In addition, mobile network operators will need to deploy more cell sites to bring 5G applications to every user. Therefore, current Indian telecom networks have to travel a long road ahead to meet the requirements of 5G. They need to overall their networks to leverage the full potential and vast possibilities of 5G technology. 

A bright future awaits India after implementation of 5G networks starts, as this technology will enhance the capabilities of the people significantly by taking care of routine tasks. The analytical Indian minds can then start finding solutions to more complex problems such as rising environmental pollution, effective management of waste and other similar issues.

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Standardised made as a standard to be followed by all users
  • Ethos atmosphere
  • Compatible able to be used
  • Real-time to be used as soon as it is generated
  • Peak maximum at any time
  • Router and switch critical equipment used in networks
  • Tentative temporary and may be changed later on
  • Spelt out finally given
  • High mobility moving at great speed
  • Internet of Things connection of computing devices with objects through the internet to enable these objects to be controlled from far away
  • Telemedicine diagnosis and treatment of patients from far way by using technology
  • Remote far away
  • Broadband a high-capacity transmission technique
  • Smart able to operate without human intervention
  • Artificial Intelligence computer systems which can perform tasks requiring human intelligence
  • Backward compatibility ability to be used with earlier versions of the system
  • Virtual network network allowing control of computing devices through the internet
  • Align Match
  • Antenna aerial
  • Augmented Reality computer-generated images and sounds that integrate the real world
  • Virtual Reality computer-generated images and sounds that are entirely self-contained
  • Upgrade bring up to a higher level
  • Countrywide throughout the country
  • Migrate shift
  • Forum group of experts
  • Roadmap plan of action
  • Testbed equipment used for testing new machinery
  • Microwave wireless technology currently in use
  • Fibre cable technology with high capacity using glass fibres 
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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