The fifth generation of cellular technology is just around the corner, and the Indian government plans to launch the services at the inauguration of the IMC (Indian Mobile Congress). It promises to connect machines, objects, devices, and most importantly, people better than ever before. It promises to transform the way we live and work with better performance, low latency networks, and faster Internet. It shall work toward ensuring uniform availability and accessibility as every user deserves a superior experience. 

5G will allow more data to travel across networks in real-time at mind-numbing speeds, all the while maintaining the utmost safety and security of the information. Undoubtedly, it has the potential to rewrite the future of the majority of industries across the globe.

According to a GSA Report, 70 countries were utilizing 5G as of June this year. The network is estimated to reach 1 billion users by the end of 2022- exceptional growth when compared to how long it took for 3G and 4G to reach people. 

However, an event of this magnitude is bound to bring with it a set of challenges, especially in a populous country like ours. It’s time to get together and be vocal about how we can leverage this technology in the best possible ways to accelerate progress across industries and contribute to the development of a sustainable society.

Thus, Global Talent Exchange organized a Virtual roundtable discussion on “The 5G Rollout: Expediting India’s Dream For Digital Transformation” as part of our Technology Game Changers Series. 

The session was moderated by Brejesh Lall (Professor, IIT Delhi). He is currently IITD Principal Investigator for MeiTY’s 5G & Beyond project and is directing a research team of 6 faculty and 27 research scholars. He has earlier served as the head of the Bharti School of Telecom Technology and Management and was the coordinator of Airtel IIT Delhi Centre of Excellence in Telecommunications and Ericsson IIT Delhi 5G Center of Excellence.
He has mentored 5 startups, in the areas of Virtualization, Geo-fencing, UAV-based Solutions, and data mining. He actively participates in building and deploying technology. 

The panel consisted of 7 multitudinous thought leaders from companies that are making a massive difference in the Indian tech scenario. They engaged with GTX’s Co-Founder Avinash Bichali during the 2-hour session, contributing their valuable insights and ideas.

The 5G Rollout - Panel Discussion

The session kicked off on a very optimistic note. Several panelists believe that superior network connectivity can bring uniformity and unity in a diverse country like India. It can bridge the gaps between the metro cities and the rural, ensuring that each spectrum of society can benefit from the technology upgrades that the country is undertaking. 

The experts took to discuss the 4G network and how it managed to make such a humongous contribution, especially during the pandemic. Children were able to continue pursuing their education with the help of good network, even in tiny, remote villages. India is in the top 5 countries globally for 4G availability. The network has helped businesses solve the problems of the public- initiatives like Aarogya Setu, UPI, Uber/OLA, OYO rooms, Cowin, etc. are examples of individual empowerment through technological innovation. 

Often with an upgrade of such magnitude, user expectations shoot through the roof- leading to a new concern of whether the hype could pose a challenge in itself, and whether or not there is a mismatch between expectations and reality. 

However, the panelists agreed that the hype was important, but people must remain patient and give the technology the time and space to unfold to its full potential.

5G is a disruption
Next, the experts went on to discuss the challenges with deployment that the country could face. Deriving understanding from their years of industry knowledge, they pointed out that the device ecosystem, backhaul, and lack of awareness could act as giant obstacles for the 5G network in India. Governmental policies must be brought into the public domain and people must be educated about the potential use cases that go beyond the typical entertainment screening so that the majority can work toward using upgrades for the betterment of society at large. The panel went into great detail to discuss how healthcare can flourish and reach the furthest corners of the country, enabling remote diagnosis, virtual care, remote surgery, telemedicine, consultations, and more at affordable rates.

Coming to the rollout itself and the India-specific applications, the panel was divided. While some opined that India’s large volume of demand and cost-sensitivity sets it apart from the other countries, others felt that the telecom capacity and coverage operate according to certain standards set from an engineering point of view and the use cases remain relatively similar the world over. 

Lastly, the panel took up an extremely important discussion point- talent. Does India have the expertise required? Do tech organizations need to rethink their approach in order to obtain the correct talent? The experts agreed that recruitment has become incredibly difficult over the past few years. While India has an abundance of skill otherwise, it lacks expertise in emerging technologies- ironically, the need of the hour. The 5G rollout and expansion will require a complex ecosystem of top-notch players, and businesses must work on their hiring strategy, bringing onboard employees from tech hubs around the world to give the Indian telecom industry a chance to compete at the international level. 

The session was filled with enthusiasm and vigour, and radiated positivity for better days ahead. 

This closed-door conference was the 7th in our Technology Game Changers Series, and we’re gearing up for the next.