Mobile networks have seen a major transformation since the launch of first-generation mobile services, which were capable of transmitting only voice calls.
However, with changing connectivity needs and rising mobile data traffic, a new category of connected-ecosystem products has emerged. Today, there is a need for networks that provide higher data speeds at low latency and enhanced throughput to handle more simultaneous connections without causing significant disruptions. And, this is exactly what 5G telephony is all about.
As the name suggests, 5G is the fifth-generation cellular network technology.
Benefits of 5G
It is designed to improve network connectivity by addressing the legacy issues of speed, latency and utility, which earlier and current generations of mobile networks have been incapable of addressing.
5G promises to deliver data at a speed 100 times that of 4G networks. Importantly, it is designed to transmit data almost instantly with a network latency of less than 10 microseconds. It will also have an enhanced throughput to handle more simultaneous connections at a time than current-generation networks.
Globally, 5G network deployment is rapidly moving from the trial stage to early commercialisation. Driven by Huawei, China remains the largest contributor to the global 5G market, accounting for 46 per cent of the sale of all such devices in 2019.
In India, Reliance Jio has approached the government to start 5G mobile network trials based on the technology and design that it has developed in-house. The company is the first in the country's telecom space to do so.
Reliance Jio wants to use its own network technology and not necessarily rely on third-party network equipment.
Last year, the government asked operators to submit their trial proposals. Jio was ready to start trials last February but the government asked it to wait until other operators submitted their trial proposals.
Vodafone Idea and Airtel have submitted their proposals jointly with Ericsson, Nokia and Chinese giant Huawei. Others are tying up with Zte.
Jio had submitted its application along with South Korean giant Samsung - which was also the sole vendor for Jio's 4G services, despite competition and aggressive bidding by Chinese gear makers.
But now Jio has announced that it would broaden its 5G trial runs with Huawei Technologies, Ericsson, and Nokia Networks, and not limit them to Samsung.
In 2018, RIL bought US-based Radisys for over $67 million to enhance the Mukesh Ambani-led firm's capabilities in 5G and the Internet of Things.
The company's move on designing 5G equipment is significant as this is an area that has always been dominated by foreign companies. If successful, Jio will be the first Indian player to build its individual 5G design and technology in the country.
Development of 5G tech
The government has been pushing Indian telecom players to build 5G technology in-house. Ericsson have already put in place a model in which equipment designed abroad is manufactured in India, and has also set up plants in the country for this purpose. Analysts say Reliance Jio's effort could fall into two new and so far unexplored categories, namely, products designed in India but manufactured abroad, and those both designed and manufactured in India.
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