For a growing economy like India, upgrading networks to 5G technology will benefit both the telecom operators and consumers. Speaking to, Ericsson Global Chief Technology Officer Erik Ekudden said that investments made in the next-generation 5G networks can lower the cost involved significantly for the telecom operators. Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson expects 5G to be rolled out in India in 2020.

“In order to leverage modern technologies for consumers, enterprises or industries – there is a need to invest in modern infrastructure, and 5G is that modern infrastructure”, Ekudden said over a phone call. “It provides high performance, high security, and these are investments that will continue paying back over a number of years both for operators and the country”, he adds.

The so-called fifth-generation, or 5G wireless technology will be significantly faster than 4G. “5G will improve user experience by providing higher bit rate, lower latency and more secure and reliable services for consumers”, Ekudden said. For instance, users will be able to download full-length movies in a matter of seconds. Not just smartphones, 5G will power IoT devices, virtual reality headset, robots, appliances, and even driverless cars. Ericsson forecasts 1 billion 5G subscriptions by 2023.

Although India is yet to see the full deployment of 4G services, we’re already talking about 5G. One should remember that 5G requires massive investments to upgrade the current infrastructure. The question of how the telecom operators will monetise 5G also comes into play.

Ekudden says the telecom operators in India will require 5G to strengthen their networks to provide a seamless experience to consumers. Given the fact that the mobile data consumption per person in India has increased over the past few months, the telecom operators will need 5G to handle the growth in traffic. As users consume more videos and download apps on their devices, it may give operators an opportunity to monetise 5G. Ericsson projects that with 5G, the telecom operator’s cost to deliver a gigabyte of data will be one-tenth the cost to deliver a gigabyte on a 4G network.

“There is a strong push for 5G around the world and we see an interest in India as well”, said Ekudden.”That is why we are making sure that we are ready with the technology and products for 5G to be launched in India around 2020″. Ericsson estimates that 5G will represent a USD 27.3-billion revenue opportunity for Indian telecom operators by 2026.

With the help of technologies like network slicing and distributed cloud, Ericsson is making sure the telecom operators can smoothly upgrade from their 4G LTE infrastructure to 5G ready systems. Ericsson has recently partnered with Airtel on creating a strategic roadmap for the evolution of 5G networks in India. It has also partnered with IIT-Delhi for its ‘5G for India’ programme.

Parv Sharma, Research Analyst with Counterpoint, said the 5G deployment in India could be delayed to 2022-2023, with trials starting around 2021-22. “For the deployment of 5G we have to consider the new spectrum licensing, deploying of fiber networks and new 5G hardware, Sharma told ”This is a very huge investment for operators which will delay their plans for the 5G deployment in India, “ he said. Counterpoint believes the first 5G smartphone will be available worldwide in 2019 and more launches will be there in 2020 driven by advanced markets like the US, Korea and Japan which will see 5G deployment in 2019.

The telecom operators have invested significantly on 4G infrastructure and are currently looking for the return on investment. And with the arrival of Reliance Jio, the telecom market has become competitive, resulting in revenue losses for Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea. Many also argue the need for the next-generation 5G technology in India, where consumers constantly struggle to get decent 4G data speeds and the “call drops” issue is frequent. – Indian Express

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