Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday officially ushered in the next general of connectivity for India when he launched 5G services on the opening day of the Indian Mobile Congress in New Delhi, though the commercial rollout of services varied between the three telecom majors.
"On the historic occasion of Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav today, India will take 5G — the greatest power in the 21st century — to the next level. India is about to sey the global standard for 5G internet," Modi said on the occasion.
While Reliance Jio is looking to cover the country completely by the end of 2023, Airtel will take a year longer. Vodafone Idea, meanwhile, has not laid out a rollout timeline, but Kumar Mangalam Birla, during his speech at the inaugural event, said it will be "very soon".
Reliance Jio chairman Akash Ambani showcased the company's indigenous 5G technology to the PM at its booth. Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, during his speech, sound a note of optimism and said, "...5G is much more than the next generation of connectivity technology. To my mind, It is a foundational technology that unlocks the full potential of other 21st century technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, Blockchain, and Metaverse."
More than the consumer benefit, Ambani said the infrastructure-level benefit of 5G is tremendous. "5G can affordably deliver high-quality healthcare to rural and remote areas by turning existing hospitals into smart hospitals without much additional investment," he said.
He also said 5G can boost agriculture, services, trade, industry, informal sector, transportation and energy infrastructure. "This will (make) India a hub of innovations, and also help us mitigate the climate crisis," Ambani said.
The Prime Minister was first privy to the demonstration of a unique use case by the three major telecom operators that will provide 5G services in India — Reliance Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea.
Airtel demonstrated how a girl from Uttar Pradesh was able to witness a lively and immersive education experience and learned about the solar system with the help of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, technologies powered by — you guessed it — 5G — something the PM impressed upon during his speech. "5G will transform education in the country,"
Airtel is aiming at a full-scale rollout of 5G by the end of 2024, but will launch the service in eight cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Bangalore.
Vodafone Idea's Kumar Mangalam Birla, during his speech, said his company's onus will be on the safety of workers and said his company's demo will showcase this in an underconstruction tunnel of Delhi Metro through creation of a Digital Twin of the tunnel on the dias.
Once it achieves a wide rollout, 5G technology will offer a wide range of benefits to the common people, such as seamless coverage, high data rate, low latency and highly reliable communications.
Also, it will increase energy efficiency, spectrum efficiency and network efficiency. 5G technology will help in connecting billions of oT devices, higher quality video services with mobility at high speed, delivery of critical services such as tele-surgery and autonomous cars among others.
According to experts, 5G will also help in real-time monitoring of disasters, precision agriculture, minimising the role of humans in dangerous industrial operations such as in deep mines, offshore activities etc.
From a consumer standpoint, most of India stands ready to take to 5G as there is a healthy penetration of 5G smartphones in the country. Tarun Pathak, director, Counterpoint Research, said, India has close to 620 million unique smartphone users, of whom 50 million use 5G smartphones.
"So I think that device ecosystem preceded the network ecosystem in India, this has happened for the first time and it is very strong," he said.
First Published: Oct 1, 2022 12:10 PM IST