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5G might lead to entertainment and telecom industries converging, says former telecom secy R Chandrasekhar

5G might lead to entertainment and telecom industries converging, says former telecom secy R Chandrasekhar

5G might lead to entertainment and telecom industries converging, says former telecom secy R Chandrasekhar
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By Amrita Das  Oct 1, 2022 1:41:57 PM IST (Updated)

From an Indian perspective, R Chandrasekhar said entertainment was going to be a big factor as it had been during the 4G and 3G launches, apart from gaming and education.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out 5G commercial services on Saturday, October 1, Former Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar said that 5G would be used more for “education, entertainment, and gaming" as no one would upgrade to more expensive technology "just to talk to their friends.” He said the tech could usher in a world of convergence of the entertainment and telecom industries.

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Modi experienced some real-world use cases of the fifth generation (5G) technology firsthand, flanked by telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and leaders of the three major telcos Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Jio, Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Airtel, and Kumar Mangalam Birla of Vodafone Idea. The firms made the representations at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022 exhibition.
Chandrasekhar said it was a "big day" for the Indian telecom sector, as are many interesting use cases in manufacturing, education, healthcare, autonomous vehicles, and so on.
"But the big question is — how soon will they be prevalent and ubiquitous? And, how soon will they make a significant impact on telcos' revenues? Obviously, this means that the investment and the rollout of the infrastructure and the launch of the services have to be in place," he said.
Reliance Jio plans to cover the whole of India with 5G services by December 2023, for which it had pumped in Rs 2 lakh crore. Bharti Airtel, which earlier said the firm would have preferred a year's delay, has committed to a pan-India 5G service rollout by March 2024.
Vodafone Idea, which had not made any 5G plan announcement till now, said on Saturday that the telco would "soon begin the 5G rollout journey" without giving out any timelines.
From an Indian perspective, Chandrasekhar said entertainment would be a big factor as it had been during the 4G and 3G launches, apart from gaming and education. "These are the three big ticket items that I would bet on, on being fast forwarded once 5G is actually available."
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The other point the former telecom secretary made is infrastructure building, "killer apps", and absorption have to happen on a significant scale and "not just as demo pieces".
Chandrasekhar said a lot would depend on how quickly the content business catches up. He also said much would depend on how soon price points can be brought within the level of affordability of the majority of the Indian population.
According to IDC, a 5G smartphone costs about $350 (approximately over Rs 28,500), but an average phone sold in India costs $220 (about Rs 18,000). A Rs 10,000 difference is a make-or-break deal for many Indians for whom price tags are a big deciding factor.
Additionally, a recent Ericsson report said only 100 million Indian users are keen on 5G and ready to shell out up to 45 percent premium.
The former secretary pointed out the fact that the facility of payment for 5G spectrum in 20 equal instalments over as many years has aligned the interests of the telecom companies as well as the country and the government. "It is now in telcos' interest to ensure a faster rollout. Some of the operators, like Reliance Jio, for example, are also in the content business. So, they will probably have recognised this opportunity even earlier," Chandrasekhar said.
He said what we all are going to witness is probably a convergence of the entertainment and the telecom industries, in which "India probably has an unbeatable opportunity and could well be a leader globally".
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