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India’s Need for Customised 5G Technology

 – India Ratings and Research (Fitch Group)

Ind-Ra-Mumbai-18 December 2018: India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) estimates India’s total wireless data usage to reach 13 exabytes/month by 2025 (5x of 1Q18 data usage). The existing technology may face capacity and technological constraints, and hence would be inadequate to meet such high data demand. Therefore, a judicious mix of fiberisation and 5G roll-out will be required.

Need for Customised 5G or 4G+: India can formulate its customised 5G or 4G+ technology rather than adopting global standards for 5G in toto. Ind-Ra’s analysis of various use-cases on speed and latency requirement indicates that India should focus on improving user experience or cater to evolving enterprise requirement; and avoid critical applications requiring ultra-low latency.

New Approach needed for 5G Spectrum Strategy: A judicious mix of 700 megahertz (MHz) and C band (3.4-3.6 gigahertz; GHz) would be ideal, as it would ensure wider coverage and provide good capacity. Ultra-high frequency E&V bands (70GHz+) can be used as network backhaul for wireless applications and/or as last mile connectivity for fibre rollout. This strategy also maps well with Ind-Ra’s assessment of global 5G spectrum strategy.

5G Deployment to Take Place in Phased Manner: Ind-Ra believes hotspot devices will take precedence over 5G handsets (4G LTE compatible), as operators would access demand for 5G applications before committing capex for commercial manufacturing of handsets. Also, industry players in India need to adopt same technology to optimally utilise and share the available infrastructure, making 5G a financially viable option.

However, few questions left unanswered include 5G challenge on net neutrality as some use cases are prioritised, feasibility of 5G for end-users, and payment ambiguity for 5G (telcos or end-users).

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