India: 5G roll-outs expected before 4G LTE is extensively deployed

by Rekha Jain of Livemint.com

Since 5G roll-outs in India are likely even before 4G LTE is extensively deployed, the adopted road map for 5G should ensure that the existing and near-future investments in 4G can be leveraged.

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Even while telecom operators in India are in the midst of rolling out 4G LTE networks, the minister for telecom has announced that India would roll-out 5G networks by 2020 – a time frame that has been accepted by service providers in many parts of the world. South Korea and Japan want to showcase leading 5G applications in the Winter and Summer Olympics in January 2018 and Summer of 2020, respectively.

However, Indian operators face several challenges for 5G roll-outs from a business point of view. They have far less spectrum in comparison to international operators. This increases their cost of operations. Many of them are also weighed down by debt. Ever faster rounds of new technology introduction when prior technology investments have not been recouped add further complexity. This juggernaut of ever evolving generations of technology and forthcoming 5G require a supportive policy and regulatory environment. Without it, the telecom sector’s health and India’s economic competitiveness would be greatly impaired. The imperatives of remaining competitive and consumer demands of faster and higher quality services leave little choice to operators but to invest in 5G.

The diverse requirements of 5G highlighted above call for significant changes in the national spectrum policy and regulation. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/ Mint

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