|Science and Society
Nov 21, 2021|2 minutes
This editorial is written by Hon’ble Chandra Reddy, Head of Capgemini Engineering in India. Chandra leads the strategy and operating plans for ER&D in India.
India is fast approaching its much-anticipated digital revolution, now more than ever. Thanks to the ever-increasing broadband and internet penetration backed by the Government’s focus on digitalization, India is today witnessing exponential data uptake coupled with surging trends of technology adoption across industries.
The impact of mobile broadband and digitization on Indian industry and economy has been immense, to say the least. Experts believe that the country’s digital economy can reach USD 1 trillion by the year 2025, with 5G being the key catalyst that would fuel this growth. Relying on dense networks of small cells, 5G, the next era of wireless service, promises to open the door to life-changing innovations with faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency.
5G is more than a next-generation communication technology; it’s a technology revolution that enables many innovative use cases, including Industry 4.0, Internet of Things (IoT), remote surgery and autonomous driving.
In line with its long-term vision of a Digital India, the Government of India has taken a view of the benefits that 5G can bring to the entire value chain across consumers and businesses. With the Department of Telecommunications recently giving operators the green light to conduct 5G trials across the country, including rural and semi-urban areas, India looks to be finally ready to set sail on its 5G journey.
In favour of that, the consumer interest for 5G in the country is also at an all-time high. About 40 million Indian smartphone users have expressed their intent to switch to 5G in the first year of its implementation, claiming a recent study by Ericsson ConsumerLab. However, it is important to note that due to the lack of an affordable device ecosystem currently, the initial use cases for 5G in India could be more for enterprises rather than consumers.
In the next decade, billions of new connected devices will come online, and they will need to transmit significantly more data reliably. To enable such connectivity, enhancement of existing wireless networks is necessary.
Additionally, the COVID-19 crisis has only highlighted a greater need for industries and organizations across sectors to evolve and make their digital transformation more effective. This is leading to the capability of connecting devices and collecting and utilizing data becoming business-critical. 5G has the potential to pave the way for more widespread IoT applications by introducing new devices across industries.
Industry 4.0 marks the transition from legacy systems to connected technologies that we will witness in smart factories. These futuristic factories will be able to make more informed, decentralized decisions, thereby improving overall equipment and process efficiency by leveraging IoT-enabled connected devices, sensors, edge computing, self-healing networks, robotics and automation.
‘Intelligent Industry,’ powered by data, is the evolution of Industry 4.0, where industrial companies completely transform across their entire value chain, starting from research and development to designing a concept, and then to engineering and manufacturing. It is a future that radically improves industrial operations, supply chain and service and support by adopting a data-centric approach to create new sources of value.
Everything a firm does will become digitized with intelligent products, operations, and support and services, leading to new platforms and portfolios and ultimately more profitable and sustainable businesses.
However, industrial networks will need a stable, secure, and fast connection to capture and process data at scale in real-time for plant and equipment monitoring and maintenance. By providing speed, reliability, capacity, and mobility, 5G promises to enable last-mile connectivity manufacturers to implement successful IoT.
With India ranking amongst the top-3 in the list of most suitable locations for global manufacturing, there is no specific direction and focus on IoT coming from both the Indian Government and industry bodies through initiatives such as SAMARTH Udyog Bharat 4.0. As 5G is expected to play a key role in Industrial Automation, it can accelerate India’s progress in Industry 4.0 by enabling unprecedented degrees of flexibility, productivity, and efficiency in industrial manufacturing.
5G could be instrumental in unlocking the digital aspirations harboured by Indian enterprises and industries. Offering ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLCC) and mass connectivity, 5G networks, unlike its predecessors, target far more than best-effort connectivity, including guaranteed service levels.
For a country like India, which has seen a meteoric rise in data-consumption in the last few years, it is critical to be an early mover in 5G technology and create a good investment climate for mobile operators to expedite the establishment of 5G networks.
India has come a long way to be among the best digitally connected nations in the world today. To maintain this lead, there is an urgent need for policy steps to accelerate the early rollout of 5G and make it affordable and available everywhere.
Taking note of the underlying infrastructure and business challenges faced by the telecom sector today, a coordinated roadmap between the public and private sectors can go a long way in nurturing the right ecosystem required for the successful adoption of 5G in India.
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