Ex­perts Cau­tion Against the 5G Rush

Dataquest - - EDIT - Ed Nair Group Ed­i­tor-ICT Busi­ness ed­nair@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in www.dqin­dia.com

The hype about 5G is deaf­en­ing.

The prom­ise of su­per­fast speeds with ul­tra-low la­tency and more net­work ca­pac­ity that can sup­port a new set of ap­pli­ca­tions is at the core of 5G’s po­ten­tial. But many ex­perts are ques­tion­ing the hype and hy­per­bole of 5G.

The con­tention is that there are not enough short-term use cases for 5G. 5G will have to co-ex­ist with ear­lier gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies mostly. It would re­quire a mas­sive re­fresh of tele­com in­fra­struc­ture to make 5G widely preva­lent.

Ex­perts say that while 5G’s prom­ises hold the po­ten­tial, the ini­tial phase would be about small, well-de­fined ar­eas that have a com­plete 5G net­work like a hos­pi­tal or a re­search in­sti­tu­tion.

Ex­perts such as Dean Bub­ley, mo­bile in­dus­try an­a­lyst, Dis­rup­tive Anal­y­sis, have fur­ther said that ul­tra-low la­tency ap­pli­ca­tions will be very lo­cal­ized. Even the so­called ‘mas­sive IoT’ op­por­tu­nity may not be an im­me­di­ate one; other IoT net­work tech­nolo­gies like SigFox and NB-IoT are de­ployed, and it would be too early to rip them off in fa­vor of 5G. Toby Youell, Re­search An­a­lyst, Pol­icy Tracker, too agrees that early use cases for true 5G are lim­ited.

The noise about 5G is cre­ated by tele­com man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Nokia, Eric­s­son, Huawei; chip man­u­fac­tur­ers such as In­tel and Qual­comm; and a few op­er­a­tors.

Though he does not dis­miss the po­ten­tial of 5G, Mag­nus Jern, Head of In­no­va­tion, DMI, says that the cur­rent trend of op­er­a­tors and tele­com man­u­fac­tur­ers rais­ing the pitch on 5G is more like a so­lu­tion look­ing for a prob­lem. Jern fur­ther states that “a lot of the early 5G hy­per­bole was be­lieved by gov­ern­ments around the world, which are now push­ing for it to be a real­ity.“

Talk­ing of govern­ment, let’s look at In­dia. While the NDCP 2018 is am­bi­tious, 5G is among the ar­eas that GoI rec­om­mends to pro­mote when it refers to “next gen­er­a­tion ac­cess tech­nolo­gies” in In­dia. It fur­ther states— rec­og­niz­ing mid-band spec­trum, par­tic­u­larly the 3 GHz to 24 GHz range— is cen­tral to In­dia’s strat­egy for ‘NextGen­er­a­tion Net­works’. 5G is con­sid­ered to be one of the big­gest en­ablers of the Dig­i­tal In­dia ini­tia­tive.

Sure, the govern­ment stands to earn hand­somely from 5G spec­trum auc­tions when it hap­pens. But through the COAI, op­er­a­tors like Air­tel, Voda­fone, Idea, have con­veyed to the govern­ment that 5G spec­trum auc­tions should be post­poned till FY2020 to al­low the de­vices ecosys­tem to de­velop, help the in­dus­try over­come its fi­nan­cial stress, and con­sol­i­date com­pletely.

This brings us to the ques­tion whether 5G is revo­lu­tion­ary or evo­lu­tion­ary. The right an­swer, per­haps, is to treat it as evo­lu­tion­ary un­til such time its revo­lu­tion­ary po­ten­tial is ready to be tapped. Else haste may make waste.

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