5G is much more than just another G: Dr Paulraj, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

APN News, July 09, 2020

Speaking in a webinar ‘Myths and Realities of 5G in India’, organised by CUTS International, Dr Arogyaswami Paulraj, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, opined that 5G’s enhanced capabilities will unlock many consumers facing and industrial use cases, by enabling Machine to Machine, and Person to Machine communication. He also mentioned weaknesses in India’s network infrastructure, which need to be overcome to realise the full potential of 5G – early, efficiently, pervasively, and inclusively.

Dr Arvind Mayaram, Former Finance Secretary of India and Economic Advisor to the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, underlined the importance of data protection and privacy with 5G. He called for the gamut of data to be generated by Internet of Things (IoT) devices to be kept secured. He also underlined the importance and role of 5G in bridging the prevailing digital divide in India, which becomes more important in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Kirti Gupta, Vice President, Technology & Economic Strategy, Qualcomm, pointed out the importance of Make in India to be implemented in its spirit. She highlighted the need for India to move from being mere assemblers of mobile phones, to actual innovators and developers of mobile chipset technology, which would require investments and intent on Research and Development (R&D).

Mr Vikram Tiwathia, Deputy Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India, appreciated the government’s initial efforts towards the Digital India programme, and the National Digital Communication Policy. However, he also expressed discontent on the lost momentum in the last few years. He highlighted India’s strength in software development, and suggested to focus on data driven use cases of 5G, as India’s contribution to 5G.

Mr TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum, called for India to upgrade its presently inadequate network infrastructure, especially with respect tomore extensive fiberisation, enhanced download/upload capability, adequate field trials of 5G use cases, and optimal spectrum allocation. He also called on the government to lower the price of spectrum, since they were consideredto be much higher than global averages considering the purchasing power of telecoms in India.

In this regard, Mr Deepak Maheshwari, Public Policy Consultant, suggested relook at the provision of having a minimum reserved price at the time of spectrum auction.

Mr Udai S Mehta, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS International shared findings from CUTS consumer survey in Delhi. He highlighted the prevailing lack of awareness among consumers regarding the potential of 5G, and timeline for availability of 5G services. While mentioning that consumers were eager to adopt 5G services, high cost and lack of valuable utility of IoT driven products were significant barriers to its adoption.

The webinar was attended by approximately 100 participants. These included government representatives, academicians, sector experts, service providers, civil society organisations, media personnel etc.

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