The year 2022 witnessed the much-awaited launch of 5G services in India and has been a turning point for the entire country. The 5G services launch at the India Mobile Congress, paved the way for multiple opportunities in each sector from manufacturing, healthcare, and augmented entertainment to smart city projects coupled with new-age technologies like Internet of things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M), drones, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data analytics with 5G, said SP Kochhar, Director-General at Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in an interview with businessline. Edited excerpts:-

The 5G technology is right now at a nascent stage in India. How soon do you think it would contribute to the country?

The technology aims to deliver a communication system with seamless coverage, a high data rate, low latency, and high reliability. It is anticipated that 5G services will play a significant part in India achieving its economic aim of being a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25. It will contribute to the creation of a linked ecosystem by improving services for smart cities, electric transportation, and other areas. It is also expected to create direct and indirect job opportunities significantly, opening avenues for people and businesses that have the potential to completely change the economic landscape.

Which sectors or industries do you think would adopt the 5G services initially?

Use of IT across verticals like manufacturing, education, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, agriculture, finance, and development sectors, will be taking value creation to the next level. A few like healthcare and education are expected to be at the forefront in deploying 5G. At the same time, others like automotive, retail and logistics will benefit greatly from its adoption. While public 5G will have applicability and use for limited consumer sections like high-tech gaming and AR/VR applications initially, enterprise business will be the key driver for its uptake and usage. We believe that 5G’s improved network connectivity will increase the remote-controlled systems in industries, enhancing safety in hazardous areas.

But, what about infrastructure development, which still seems to be very low?

Currently, around 35 lakh km of fiber has been laid in the country and the aim is to reach 50 lakh km in the next two years, meaning about 7.5 lakh km of fiber deployed each year. Further, only about 35 per cent of the towers are connected with fiber presently. The aim is to fiber around 70 per cent of the towers in the next two years. About towers, there are around seven lakh mobile towers and over 23 lakh BTSs presently. The aim is to have around 15 lakh towers in the next three years. COAI, along with our member TSPs, will coordinate with the Centre, State Governments, Municipal Corporations and local authorities to meet its target for the deployment of fiber and towers, to create a robust, world class 5G infrastructure in India.

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