The coronavirus-induced pandemic further accelerated India’s digitisation goals, leaving industries with no option but to adapt to the digital space. With the dawn of new age technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), a solution that will provide industries with an opportunity to reach out to global markets and collaborate with industries worldwide is the 5G technology. A Grand View Research study suggests that the global 5G services market size was valued at $48.25 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.7 percent from 2022 to 2030.
As India joins the race in 5G technologies with the spectrum scheduled to launch on Saturday, it is being conceived that this technology will serve as the foundation on which a digital India will be built.
5G: Genesis and evolution
The field of Cellular Mobile Communication has seen new generation entrants, once every decade. Since the first generation in 1980, when the world was introduced to mobile voice calls, we have watched communication technologies evolve over the past four decades. After 1G, India was introduced to Short Message Service (SMS) in the year 1990 with 2G GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), followed by 3G UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) in the year 2000 along with which came a game changer — Mobile Web Browsing.
Come 2010, India saw 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution). It was not just ‘fast’ but made downloads 10 times easier than 3G. This also meant that webpages would load instantly, and video and music streaming became much smoother, giving users a seamless experience.
What is the 5G experience like across the globe?
According to a report by Opensignal (Benchmarking the Global 5G Experience) published in June 2022, South Korea tops the list of countries with the highest 5G download speed, surpassing the 400 Mbps mark. Malaysia and Sweden rank second and third with download speeds of 382.2 Mbps and 333.9 Mbps, respectively. In terms of the best 5G upload speed, Malaysia ranks first with a speed of 50.3 Mbps followed by Sweden (43.7 Mbps) ranking second, and Norway (40.5 Mbps) ranked third.
The vast difference in download and upload speed is a result of operators’ focus on download speeds rather than upload in most 5G deployments.
Sweden also takes a lead among the highest ranked markets for video experience with a score of 82.6, followed by Slovenia (81.4) and Austria (81.1). As regards gaming experience, South Korea tops the chart with a score of 89.6, followed by Singapore at 85.3 and Slovakia (84.6) in the third position.
To evaluate and compare the extent of 5G services between countries, one must review the market size and nature of a country’s geography. Countries with rural domination and extensive wilderness make it harder for operators to serve with 5G than compact cities and nations with concentrated populations.
According to Opensignal’s study, Puerto Rico tops the list in 5G availability and reach. Operators here have deployed 5G using a low band spectrum but have achieved a 42.6 score in availability. Users in the country spent over a quarter of their time on an active 5G connection. South Korea, following after Puerto Rico in terms of 5G reach providing high location experience, also ranks third after Kuwait (32.0) in terms of availability.
India’s 5G rollout and 6G vision
The 5G technology launch is right around the corner. On October 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reveal more details about the 5G rollout. In addition to this, he will also talk about India’s vision ahead for 6G on the first day of the four-day-long event.
Telecom giants like Airtel and Reliance Jio have already announced to roll out 5G services for their users by Diwali this year. Prices of 5G plans have not yet been revealed but the Union IT Ministry has assured users that the technology will be affordable for all.