Nokia India's Amit Marwah sheds light on how far is the 5G reality

Industry leader | Published on 10 Jun 2021
Nokia India's Amit Marwah sheds light on how far is the 5G reality

We're celebrating our 20th birthday this month, and we've invited industry experts, researchers and scientists to write in and paint a vision of the future, 20 years from now. Here's what Amit Marwah, Head of Marketing and Corporate affairs (CMO), Nokia India had to share about his vision of the future.

On July 31, 1995, the first wireless call in India was made between erstwhile Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram and Chief Minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu on Nokia mobile phones on a GSM network operated by Modi-Telstra. Now, 25 years hence, as India awaits the fifth generation of telecommunications, the 5G, the horizon looks entirely different. From simple voice exchange in the beginning of this century to the 4G-driven data explosion today, telecom in India has grown to impact every element of society.

The transformation that 5G can enable in societies is beyond description. From superfast communications to smart home innovations and from self-driven cars to industrial robots, 5G has the potential to transform every sector, bringing efficiency and cost savings. With 5G, the world of consumer technology will witness an overhaul in the next couple of years, chiefly driven by modern trends like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing, multimedia advancements and more. The 5G-enabled technologies can support responsible resource consumption, enabling more sustainable cities and communities — and improve energy efficiency by enabling remote working, smart grids, asset monitoring and more.

Globally, the rate of 5G uptake has been faster compared to the previous generation of mobile technologies. It is estimated that 5G grows nearly 3x faster than 4G, and with this rate, it can acquire 1 billion global users in just three-and-a-half years. Research conducted by Nokia Bell Labs in 2020 found that 5G has the potential to contribute $8 trillion to global GDP by 2030, with industries as diverse as mining, entertainment, transportation, and healthcare all set to reap enormous benefits.  It has the power the transform world’s education and employment. Globally around 1.4 billion people are using mobile devices to educate themselves or their children.  It is estimated that 5G has the potential to meet the needs of the 262 million children and youth who are not attending any kind of school. 

In India, 5G has the potential to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion, TRAI said.  The superfast 5G network and associated technologies will help drive digital transformation in the country and achieve the goal of digital empowerment. The telecom sector in India currently reeling under huge debts, is banking heavily on 5G to increase their average revenue per user (ARPU) for growth. As per GSMA Intelligence, 5G connection in India is expected to reach 6% of the total population by 2025 (72 million) and 93% by 2040.

The momentum has already begun in India with several smartphone makers launching 5G-enabled devices even before the official launch of 5G. At the end of 2020, India had nearly 2 million 5G enabled devices (Nokia MBiT Index), and 5G smartphone shipments in India is expected to hit the 38 million units mark in India in 2021 accounting for 21% share of the total smartphone market in the same year (Counterpoint Research). 

The 5G impact for people and process

The immediate beneficiaries of 5G in India will be smartphone users. 5G offers much faster connectivity with up to 20 Gbps peak data rates and 100+ Mbps average data rate, as well as an average latency of below 10 milliseconds and less than one millisecond in best-case scenarios. Thus, 5G momentum builds on the expectations of delivering enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) which will spur the usage of mobile video, OTT applications, AR/VR and cloud gaming.

As per TRAI February data, India currently has a wireless subscriber base of 981.92 million, with almost all of them relying on 4G network. As per the analysis by Nokia, 4G constituted 98.7% of total data traffic consumed across the country in 2020. The growing demand for data, driven by the changing user patterns, will add tremendous pressure on the network; in this scenario, 5G can address many of the connectivity challenges by complementing the 4G network in places wherever it is available in the initial stages.

The growth of 5G will further trigger the demand for data as users gain access to newer and better applications thanks to the innovations in the devices segment. The world of smart devices is growing from AI-enabled smartphones to smart ovens and from smart TVs capable of home surveillance to devices to monitor the health status, and so on. They are redefining the world of work, study, entertainment, shopping and every other service by building digital capabilities, thereby improving productivity and efficiency especially during the pandemic when the movement of people and objects are restricted. 

In India, 5G can also support several use cases like telemedicine, rural education, crop monitoring, energy management, and AR/VR applications across a wide range of consumer segments. Digital access and enhancements brought by 5G across each of these applications going to have a direct and deep impact on society, and on the overall growth of the country. In agriculture, 5G can address some of the critical challenges like water scarcity faced by farmers across the globe.  They can leverage connected technologies, data analytics, smart sensors powered by 5G to monitor the field to ensure optimal use of the resources while maximizing agricultural outputs. 

While 5G can complement 4G networks in most areas, the viability of 5G as a rural broadband solution is yet to be materialized. Given the infrastructure challenges prevailing in rural connectivity domain, a lot more work needs to be done to make broadband ubiquitous in these areas. The development around edge computing proves vital in this scenario as it can facilitate network access near the premise, thereby addressing the latency challenges in these applications.

5G will also trigger the Industry 4.0 revolution across segments like automotive, manufacturing, retail, banking, healthcare and every other vertical in India. The differentiation that 5G is likely to bring across these segments is mostly related to productivity enhancements, e.g, smart factories equipped with autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). However, smart factories are not just about AMRs but also about innovations enabled through technologies like big data analytics, IoT and 3D printing which together enable the smart ecosystem from procurement to production, from supply chain movement to marketing, and from post-sales service to even disposal and reuse. Data networks play crucial role in every step enabling timely delivery of information, real-time monitoring of assets, customer engagement, problem solving, security, predictive analytics, and product lifecycle management. 

Nokia is contributing to the 5G evolution through innovative solutions that address the current market demands while also future-proofing them for better results. The Nokia Smart Factory in India is a significant step forward, as it has emerged as the first Indian factory to start 5G New Radio production (2018), making in India for the world. We are committed to contributing towards the Make in India vision and drive a self-sustainable 5G ecosystem in the country; our R&D initiatives are designed in this line. 

While it is evident that 5G has a huge potential to lead India to its digitization goals, it is important that the entire stakeholders, including the government, CSPs, telecom vendors and businesses make proactive steps to make it up and running. The government needs to provide a framework that encourages investment in 5G while CSPs and the industry as a whole need to educate the consumers and enterprises on the benefits of 5G and how it can transform their lives and business. 
Looking ahead to 2030, Nokia will redouble its efforts to act responsibly, ethically and sustainably, through a four-pronged strategy: promote equality by making 5G accessible to all, building digital trust by giving more control over personal data, put people first by making life better with 5G , and ensure sustainability by promoting greener initiatives. As 5G deployments progress globally, the time is also right to build the vision of the future in the research of 6G as new themes will emerge that will shape system requirements and technologies. Nokia is taking the lead in building the foundation for next generation of wireless and the roadmap for 6G.

By- Amit Marwah, Head of Marketing and Corporate affairs (CMO), Nokia India

To read what other industry leaders and experts have to say about the future in their respective fields, visit our 20th Anniversary Microsite.

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