With the promise of 1ms latency and 1,000 times more capacity than 4G, 5G scores in terms of speed and efficiency. 5G will have the ability to interwork with different technologies and various types of devices, offering maximum efficiencies. Thus, 5G is set to change the way the telecommunications industry works. With this, the global telecom sector has to ramp up backhaul infrastructure with optical fibre to enable the next level of transformation towards the digital age.
With the official introduction of 5G this year,
several leading countries in Asia and Europe
have taken the lead in 5G technology by
conducting pre-5G tests and improvising
network infrastructure. Their governments
have also initiated consultations to identify
the challenges and opportunities in 5G.
Where does 4G – precursor of 5G stand
Globally, there are already more than 1 billion
4G LTE subscriptions out of the total 7 billion
mobile subscription. In India, we have nearly
10 million 4G subscriptions out of 1 billion
mobile subscribers as per the data received in
December 2015. China has seen rapid
expansion of its 4G user base, which has
already crossed 380 million in 2015 out of 1.3
billion mobile subscribers. With more and
more users adopting 4G, the consumption of
high-speed broadband is likely to grow
further up and create the demand for future
technologies like 5G.
5G trials underway
The market research team at Ericsson expects
early adoption of next-generation network
technology in Asia and the US to drive rapid
growth in 5G subscriptions. As per their
estimates, there will be approximately 150
million 5G cellular subs globally by the end of
2021. That is just five years away!
Comparing 5G with previous generations
shows that it is not just a new radio-access
technology – much more is expected from it.
5G is shaping up to provide cost-effective and
sustainable wireless connectivity to billions
of things, people, enterprises, applications,
and places around the world.
The first 5G network trials are already
ongoing on a small scale, and commercial
systems are expected in 2020.
When & where will you be
When & where will you be able to get a
taste of 5G?
- AT&T to pilot 5G in USA as early as Q2
- China Mobile plans to finish the testing of
5G technologies and products in 2017
and conduct trial operations in 2018,
with commercial use by 2020.
- Telstra (Australia) will offer its first taste
of 5G at the 2018 Commonwealth
Games, in partnership with Ericsson.
- Japan’s NTT DoCoMo is planning to use
5G technology to disseminate video
images and provide other services at
venues of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and
- MegaFon has planned to provide 5G
coverage in Russia for the Football World
Cup 2018 – in partnership with Huawe
The essential role of fibre in 5G
In a recent poll by LightReading, lack of fibre backhaul was the biggest challenge
faced by operators in implementing 5G.
These formidable network performance goals are heavily
predicated on 100% connectivity of mobile sites with optic
|% of Towers
required to be
Source: Sterlite Tech’s reach, market estimates
Where does India stand in 5G adoption?
In India, Voice contributes to 80% of the revenue and 20% is
from Data. In addition, there have been several challenges
specific to the Indian market to upgrade the network quality
such as high cost and limited availability of spectrum,
Lowest Average Revenue per user globally and very costly,
complicated Right of Way (RoW) approval procedure to
deploy optic fibre cables.
With India has starting large scale roll-out of
4G, the landscape is expected to change
dramatically with the eminent launch of
Reliance Jio this year. Reliance has created a
pan-India, all-IP 4G network with a very
significant investment of $20 billion.
Overall, India is expected to have close to
230 million 4G connections by 2020, or 17%
of total connections.
Nokia has recently initiated discussions with
Telecom operators for 5G trials in India. The
Indian will first want to ensure appropriate
return on investment from over $50 billion
invested in building 3G and 4G networks.
What lies in the future?
India currently has 15% of its 600,000 towers
connected on Optical fibre, as compared to
65-80% in USA, China, Japan and Korea. To
upgrade this connectivity to 100% will
require significant investment and
commitment from the Telecom operators to
build future-proof 5G networks.
Given the spectrum and other infrastructure
(i.e. Mobile towers, active equipment, etc.)
required, it is likely that 5G will be launched in
India after 2022.
Global Head – Telecom Products