Mukesh Ambani promises rollout by 2021 but India lacks the infrastructure even if spectrum is allocated
Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani has consistently defied the slump of the pandemic-induced economy to make rich gains. First, he got a host of investors on to his Jio telecommunications platform. Then he bought out India’s largest home-grown retail chain, Future Group. And now he has promised the rollout of 5G technology in India by the second half of 2021, with indigenous technology. While this sounded futuristic and bright at the Indian Mobile Congress, which he was addressing, the question is even with policy enablers in place, this is a tough ask. Most experts and even Jio’s rivals, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, argue that even if the spectrum is allocated, India lacks the infrastructure to implement 5G efficaciously. Besides, the economics would not sit easy as the services would be high priced. How will Reliance resolve affordability, which is its hallmark, with a premium service, is still not clear. Which is why most operators are planning a phased rollout, testing the response and their own serviceable efficiencies. A seamless ecosystem requires a uniform depth of connectivity across the country.
Jio apparently has a home-grown, end-to-end 5G solution ready for deployment. But questions arise on whether it has done extensive field trials considering that most companies have had to content themselves with lab trials. This technology needs a massive network infrastructure that is not patchy and is fool-proof. While Reliance may be ready to deploy, does it have the guaranteed network to run its services on? We must remember that our technology will be measured against some of the most competitive names in the business, some of whom have exclusive patents on 5G. Reliance, of course, is working with American chipmaker Qualcomm and is fairly confident of its edge in the high stakes game, claiming that Jio users will be able to browse the internet at up to 1Gbps speeds. For India, 5G, with faster data speeds and enhanced digital experiences across a host of connected devices, like smartphones, laptops, augmented and virtual reality products and internet of things (IoT) solutions, would revolutionise fields like telemedicine and healthcare, of utmost significance in a post-pandemic world. And while we may want to join the select club of the US, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland and Germany sooner, we cannot shortchange viability.
Source: The Pioneer