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Explained: Is India prepared to restyle its mode to 5G?


New Delhi, Jan 18: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sought inputs from the telecom operators and other industry experts on the sale and use of radio frequency spectrum over the next 10 years, including the 5G bands.


What is 5G?

Also known as fifth generation, 5G is the recent upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks. This mode mainly works in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum - all of which have their own uses as well as limitations.

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It can be seen that the low band spectrum has shown great promise in terms of coverage and speed of internet and data exchange, the maximum speed is limited to 100 Mbps (Megabits per second). The telecom operators can use and install it for commercial cellphone users who may not have specific demands for very high speed internet, the low band spectrum may not be optimal for specialised needs of the industry.

Meanwhile, the mid-band spectrum offers higher speeds compared to the low band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals.

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The high-band spectrum offers the highest speed of all the three bands, but has extremely limited coverage and signal penetration strength. Internet speeds in the high-band spectrum of 5G has been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (giga bits per second), while, in most cases, the maximum internet data speed in 4G has been recorded at 1 Gbps.

How is India prepared to use 5G?

In 2018, India had planned to start 5G services as soon as possible, with an aim to capitalise on the better network speeds and strength that the technology promised.

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The three private telecom players, namely, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vi, are seen urging the DoT to lay out a clear road map of spectrum allocation and 5G frequency bands, so that they would be able to plan the roll out of their services.

However, the one big hurdle is the lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with at least two of the three players, namely Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

While Reliance Jio plans to launch an indigenously built 5G network for the country as early as the second half of this year, the company is said to have a complete end-to-end 5G solution prepared by the company itself that is ready for deployment once the networks are in place.

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