Can India launch 5G in 2020 when only 31% tower sites are fiberized?

To reap the benefits of 5G, the country needs to double its tower site fiberization from 31% to 62% in the next 12-18 months

In developed economies, fiberization of telecom sites is around 60-70 percent whereas in India we are still at 31 percent which is far too low in terms of providing good quality telecom services. And because of this 1.3 billion Indians are badly affected by poor voice and data quality network irrespective of the geography and service provider. Not only this, both indoor and outdoor coverage also needs to be improved by Indian operators if they plan to launch good 5G services in 2020.   

Replying to unstarred question in Lok Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications, Law & Justice and Electronics and Information Technology said, “Telecom Service Providers (TSP) fiberise their network at any specific tower site. As per details provided by TSPs total number of 219,949 TSP sites out of total 706,948 TSP sites have been fiberised.”  

5G Launch Plan By Countries:

2019 – Australia, Guam, Hong Kong, Northern Mariana Islands and Philippines

2020 – China, India, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Vietnam

2025 – Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Samoa and Thailand

Source: GSMA

In toto, only 31% of TSP sites have been connected to the fiber network in the country whereas in developed economies it is around 60-70% or even higher in some countries. The rate of conversion is increasing with each passing year as video is the next voice for all global networks. In India because of multi-cultural, multi-language and high illiteracy level, the demand for video further increases. As per Ericsson Mobility Report June 2019, monthly data consumption per person is around 9.8 GB which is highest in the world.

“The government is facilitating the (TSPs) for laying fibre by means of addressing Right of Way (RoW) challenges and creating a collaborative institutional mechanism between centre, states and local bodies for common Rights of Way (RoW), standardisation of costs and timelines and removal of barriers to approvals,” added Prasad.

Indian operators need to act fast and not give excuses that spectrum is not enough but has to deploy fiber in metro networks and fiberize their sites at the earliest. All this will help in providing good 5G services such as high speed mobile broadband, remote surgery, streaming live sports events, multi-player gaming, AR/VR application irrespective of the operator and geography.



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