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Why 5G’s Impact will Be Far Greater than That of Earlier Generation of Telecom Networks  

By Madhav Sheth

5G rollouts have been underway in India for over a year. Together, India’s two leading telecom operators provide 5G services in over 5,000 towns and cities. And by the end of 2023, both expect their 5G networks to cover every part of the country. The presence of 5G networks will transform many industries and change how millions live. Understanding how this will happen requires understanding how things changed as 5G’s precursors were introduced in India.

What came before 5G?

5G is a 5th-generation telecom network. Its precursors were 4G, 3G, and 2G. While 4G allows data transfer speeds of up to 50 megabits per second (MBPS), 3G allows data transfer at just 8 MBPS, while the muckiih older 2G, allows data transfer at a measly 64 kilobytes per second (KBPS). To put that last figure in perspective, 1,000 kilobytes equals 1 megabyte!

When 3G networks were introduced in India – in the early part of the last decade – they ushered in the era of mobile connectivity in the country. Indians could finally watch streaming content on the move – something that was impossible on 2G networks. Startups, social media influencers, e-learning, e-commerce, OTT networks and others owe their success to the introduction of 3G and to the faster still 4G networks that came later.

The introduction of 3G led to video conferencing, mobile TV, and GPS, while 4G led to consumers using applications that have enormous processing power and made wearables ubiquitous.

5G theoretically allows data to move at up to 1 Gigabyte per second (GBPS) and even as fast as 10 GBPS. To put these figures in perspective, 1 gigabyte equals 1000 megabytes.

What’s more 5G has very low latency. This means that when a 5G mobile user taps a dormant app, it communicates nearly instantly with a cloud or server. For gamers, this means all the action in even the most hardware-intensive multiplayer game happens in real-time with no lag in action.

Moving data at such high speeds and low latency opens a universe of near-endless possibilities.

A Universe of Near Endless Possibilities

5G will eclipse the advances made when its precursors were introduced. It’ll help immerse people in virtual worlds, let them stream content in hi-definition, make autonomous vehicles a reality, lead to the creation of fully automated factories, make Industry 4.0 a reality, bring e-learning to every corner of India, and much more.

Are You Ready to Live in the Metaverse?

Though the hype behind the Metaverse has died down significantly, behind the scenes, tech giants are betting that in the future, people will do everything from gaming, shopping, and banking, to having office meetings in the Metaverse. 5G networks will bring the metaverse to mobile devices. With 5G speeds, users can immerse themselves in the metaverse using their mobile device and a sleek headset.

VR headsets, which are already becoming less clunky, lighter, sleeker, and easier to wear for long periods, may become indistinguishable from sunglasses and make spending time in the metaverse the world’s favorite pastime.

5G Makes Possible Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous cars already roam the streets of many cities in the US – all thanks to 5G networks. 5G networks’ low latency is what makes autonomous cars possible. Autonomous vehicles must respond nearly instantaneously to the constantly incoming flow of new information, something that’s possible only over 5G networks. Though autonomous cars are years, or perhaps decades away from being seen on Indian roads, the 5G networks being built today will be essential to making them a reality here.

Like autonomous vehicles, robots that are controlled remotely by a human must respond to new commands instantly. 5G networks can provide such instant connectivity.

5G will also transform agriculture. With 5G networks, farmers in every part of India will be able to use drones to examine their crops. Such drones would provide farmers with precise information in real-time about their corps’ health, the quality of the farmers’ soil, and information about the number of pests in the fields. Furthermore, by sharing and receiving information nearly instantaneously over 5G networks, such drones would be able to take appropriate steps such as eliminating pests. Notably, with 5G, the IT revolution would reach India’s hinterland just a few decades after the internet was born whereas many parts of India still remain untouched by the centuries old industrial revolution!

5G will also bring unprecedented processing power to the hands of smartphone users.

Giving a Smartphone Superpowers

5G connectivity makes smartphones more powerful by bringing even more of the cloud’s processing power to users’ handsets. With 5G speeds, users can enhance photos and videos like never before. Over 5G networks, AI-powered photo and video editing tools – stored kilometers away on the cloud – run as if they’re on users’ devices. Such power adds remarkable clarity to every photo and lets users edit like professionals. In addition, thanks to 5G speeds, users with 5G handsets can share these large photo and video files with friends and family easily.

Concerning 5G use cases, the ones mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg.

5G can help bring unparalleled realism to classrooms by making students who are learning virtually feel like they’re sitting in the classroom. The dream of world-class education for every Indian may be realized with 5G. Also, 5G will bring e-commerce to life by letting shoppers walk through online stores and, through haptic feedback, make it possible for them to get a tactile feel of products.

Today, when 5G networks cover so much of India, phone manufacturers and service providers must anticipate the unthought-of opportunities that 5G will bring. From digital payments – which took off because of solid 4G connectivity – to wearables and IoT devices, 5G will disrupt each sector and more. And because India is so vast, diverse, and unique, there are certainly untapped opportunities in the country that have no precedent anywhere else.


(The author is Madhav Sheth, CEO, HTech, and the views expressed in this article are his own)