General Studies IIIScience and Tech

5G technology


Telecom Secretary Shri Anshu Prakash inaugurates an online certification course on 5G technology

What is 5G Technology?

  • In telecommunications, 5G is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019,
  • It is the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cellphones.
  • 5G networks are predicted to have more than 1.7 billion subscribers worldwide by 2025, according to the GSM Association
  • All 5G wireless devices in a cell are connected to the Internet and telephone network by radio waves through a local antenna in the cell.
  • The main advantage of the new networks is that they will have greater bandwidth, giving higher download speeds, eventually up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbit/s)
  • The increased speed is achieved partly by using higher-frequency radio waves than previous cellular networks.
  • However, higher-frequency radio waves have a shorter useful physical range, requiring smaller geographic cells.
  • For wide service, 5G networks operate on up to three frequency bands – low, medium, and high
  • Low-band 5G uses a similar frequency range to 4G cellphones, 600–850 MHz, giving download speeds a little higher than 4G: 30–250 megabits per second (Mbit/s).Low-band cell towers have a range and coverage area similar to 4G towers.
  • Mid-band 5G uses microwaves of 2.5–3.7 GHz, allowing speeds of 100–900 Mbit/s, with each cell tower providing service up to several kilometers in radius.
  • High-band 5G uses frequencies of 25–39 GHz, near the bottom of the millimeter wave band, although higher frequencies may be used in the future. It often achieves download speeds in the gigabit per second (Gbit/s) range, comparable to cable internet. However, millimeter waves (mmWave or mmW) have a more limited range, requiring many small cells.


  • High-Speed mobile network
  • Entertainment and multimedia 
  • Internet of Things 
  • Smart cities 
  • Smart farming 
  • Telemedicine services 
  • Controlling of critical infrastructure and vehicles.
  • Industrial applications


The main advantages of the 5G are a greater speed in the transmissions, a lower latency and therefore greater capacity of remote execution, a greater number of connected devices and the possibility of implementing virtual networks (network slicing), providing more adjusted connectivity to concrete needs.

  • 5G can diversify services and has potential to demonstrate spectral efficiency.
  • High data speed of 5G Network might help cloud systems to stream software updates, music, and navigation data.
  • 5G will help to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our daily lives.
  • It will also facilitate the ecosystem for the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • It will help in digital growth of country that will result in rise of GDP and employment generation in the country.

Evolution of Cellular Network:

image 19

Speed of Network:

image 18

In Indian Context:

5G networks in India can be deployed in three months but in limited areas as the optical fibre-based infrastructure to support the technology is not ready yet,

All the three private telecom players, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vi have been 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 accordingly.

  • One big hurdle, however, is the lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with at least two of the three players, namely Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
  • On the other hand, Reliance Jio plans to launch an indigenously built 5G network for the country as early as the second half of this year.

Steering Committee on 5G

  • The committee was set up in September 2017 and submitted its report on August 24, 2018, under the chairmanship of AJ Paulraj to suggest road map for 5G adoption. 
  • It gave wide-ranging recommendations to Department of Telecommunication for areas like spectrum policy, regulatory policy, standards and education. 
  • It has asked for setting up a Standing Committee with five-year term to advice on building Spectrum Technology Infrastructure. 
  • It has proposed promulgation of key norms on regulatory matters by March 2019 in order to facilitate early deployment of 5G technology and noted that 5G technologies will start entering service globally beginning 2019 and advance to full range of services by 2024. 
  • It recommended deployment classification of 5G into three phases based on technologies and expects that economic impact of 5G to be over $1 trillion by 2035. 
  • It said that the early adoption of 5G will make equipments needed for 5G roll out more expensive but early adoption will fast track India’s embrace of 5G’s benefits. 
  • The committee pointed out that even after entry of 5G, the earlier generation mobile technologies will continue to remain in use for almost 10 more years.

Government Steps in this Direction

  • Recently approved, National Electronics Policy 2019 aims to position India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing and promotes early stage Start-ups in emerging technology areas such as 5G, loT, Artificial Intelligence etc.
  • Bharat Net project aims to provide digital infrastructure on a non-discriminatory basis by an affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households. 
  • Indian government also initiated measures to introduce 5G technology via the National Telecom Policy (NTP), which aims to reach 100% teledensity, high-speed internet highways and delivery of citizen-centric services electronically. 
  • The Department of Telecommunications set up a high-level forum to develop the roadmap for 5G services in India by 2020. 
  • The government is also working on creating a corpus of Rs 500 crore for research and development for 5G technology in India. 
  • The government has invited leading telecom companies to undertake pilot projects on spectrum allocated free of charge for a year.  
  • India is making efforts to have its own Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) as a part of 5G global standards. 
  • The auction for a broad range of spectrum bands for 5G, later this year, will set the stage for India to power the next generation mobile networks.


  • The promised speed of 5G is difficult to achieve considering the incompetent technological support in most parts of the world. 
  • Many of the old devices will need to be replaced as they are not supporting 5G. 
  • In India average download speed is 9.12 Mbps which is very less in comparison to the global average speed of 23.54 Mbps. 
  • Number of users in India also poses huge challenge in terms of swift upsurge in mobile broadband consumption and the subsequent network congestion.
  • The switch from 4G to 5G will be infrastructure intensive and development of infrastructure for 5G is very expensive.
  • 5G cannot take off without basic infrastructure foundation, such as standard servers, open application programming interface (APIs) etc. 
  • The transition experience from one technology generation to another is not very good as one has to buy a whole another phone to start using latest cellular technology, thereby creating financial liability. 
  • There are expected to be 20 billion connected devices in the world by 2020 and as a result data will become highly distributed. It will be a new challenge to manage, analyze, store and protect data, irrespective of where it exists.

Way Ahead

  • The arrival of 5G-enabling smart devices will change the way we live & think and can be a game changer for better service delivery, faster access to services and deeper penetration of digital services.
  • It is high time that India should strengthen the domestic telecommunication manufacturing market to enable local industries to capture both domestic as well as global market. 
  • An “intelligence-first” approach will need to be adopted by Telecom providers for managing core networks as an important business investment. 
  • For widespread 5G deployment, it needs to become financially viable otherwise rural integration will remain a pipe dream. 
  • The roadmap for digital futures of masses is being chalked out this year so 2019 will be the defining year. 
  • Given that 4G networks are still nascent in India, for developing a robust telecom infrastructure and backhaul spectrum to associated bandwidth and a well-defined data protection law, we have a long way to go.

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