India is on the verge of introducing next-generation technology, 5G but, the preparation of the infrastructure is far behind the imaginary framework that was idealised for the technology. Amid the demonstration of new use cases for 5G by the various telecom players, site fiberisation and setup of a sufficient number of towers is still left to be done.
There is a crucial need for investment to boost the network density through the provisioning of active infrastructure, small cells and fiber, in order to make the launch of 5G successful. The government is planning to auction the 5G range or spectrum in the second half of 2022. Keeping in mind and considering the financial health of the industry, which after the consolidation has reduced to the number of three private players, there has been a demand for appropriate and affordable pricing of the 5G network.
To have a successful launch for the 5G network, there is a need to encourage investment in digital infrastructure.
The hold in the infrastructure setup has taken place at a time when it is affecting the growth layers of the data traffic. 4G services and the network has contributed 99% to the total consumption of data by the users, while on the other hand, the number of broadband users has increased to 765 million in India and the 4G data traffic has marked the growth of 6.5 times in the recent 5 years. The growth of data is expected to boost at a great speed, with the introduction of the 5G spectrum.
The fiberisation of towers is extremely crucial to carry a large amount of data after the entrance of 5G. the fiberisation of towers will help to link cell sites to a point-of-presence and also, to the depths of the network, which will seamlessly provide support for the increasing number of data users. For this, there is an immediate need to expand the investment in some key factors of the network like fiberisation, spectrum and setup of towers on pan-India coverage. Looking at the considerably unsafe situation, the experts have asked if the industry has available funds for investment.
The investment required for the optical fiber infrastructure is around Rs 2.2 lakh crore, for the fiberisation of 70% of towers in the upcoming four years. In the same time span, to set up around 15 lakh towers, an investment of Rs 2.5 lakh crore will be required according to the evaluation of the Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI) and the National Broadband Mission. COAI is a body of the telecom industry that represents various telcos like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea and also, telecom hardware making companies like Nokia and Sony Ericsson.
The government is planning to auction the 5G range or spectrum in the second half of 2022.
To have a successful launch for the 5G spectrum, there is a crucial need to encourage investment in digital infrastructure. With only 34% of towers fiberized, the government needs to boost the growth of infrastructure and get done with at least 50% of sites on fiber. While fiber is the supreme choice for the network spectrum, telecom players in the industry can go with microwave backhaul for the time being, as it provides the benefit of capacity and ease of positioning. Microwave backhaul refers to the transportation of data including video and voices, between the sites that are distributed and a centralised point-of-presence via the airwaves.