5G Technology in India

5g technology upsc

In simple words, 5G technology is a new generation of wireless technology. It is an evolution of 4G, and it is set to roll out in phases. Here are some basics about 5G.

On April 3, 2019, South Korea became the first nation to implement a network of 5G. Verizon, a US firm, refuted South Korea’s assertions. Verizon introduced their 5G connectivity in the USA on the same day. South East Asia’s first country to introduce a 5G network was the Philippines. China is home to the largest network of 5G in the world.

This piece of writing centered around the 5G technology is beneficial for the students preparing for the prestigious exam conducted by the UPSC. As 5G is one of the valuable and worth studying topics for UPSC Preparation.

5G Technology: Facts for UPSC

If you’ve been wondering what 5G is, then you are definitely not alone. There are millions around the world who are confused about what 5G is and how different it is from the existing generations of network or cell phone connections.

Let us break down this confusing term into two – 5 and G. 5G stands for the 5th Generation technology used for cellular broadband cellular networks. This latest generation began to be developed in 2019 and will become a successor to the current connectivity provider – 4G. 

The thing with this high-speed 5G technology is that it is based on smaller cells of geographical location. With smaller service areas or cells, 5G connects all wireless standard devices in a cell site to a local antenna.

What makes this stand out among the revolutionary technologies? This technology enables maximum speed, and lower latency, and enables more capacity than previous mobile network generations. It has a massive network capacity. 

This means that 5G will impact each and every industry be it transportation, remote healthcare, education, security, and digitized logistics. It will also lead to cost savings for manufacturers and enable more efficient manufacturing systems.

Using machine-learning algorithms, 5G will offer much lower latency, making it ideal for monitoring systems. Within healthcare, it will become easier to track patient health and prevent emergencies.

Further, within security and logistics, 5G will allow for swarms of drones to patrol cities and perform fire assessments. It will enable autonomous vehicles to read live maps and further these vehicles can then communicate with each other and work remotely.

Evolution from First Generation to Fifth Generation Technology

Step-by-step and well-researched improvements made upon the first-generation networks have resulted in the gradual up-gradation to the current fifth generation. To know the benefits of 5G, it is essential to briefly know about the innovations each generation brought in. Read on. 


The earliest cellular phones belong to the 1G family. 1G is what made human-to-human communication over networks possible. It was launched in the 1980s and utilized analog radio signals. That is, it supported only voice calls.


The shift from analog voice to digital voice happened with the development of the 2G network. It was launched in the 1990s and made use of digital radio signals. That is, it supported both voice and data transmissions within a bandwidth of 64 kbps. 


The era of mobile broadband and mobile internet access began with 3G technology. Launched in the 2000s as telephone signals transmitted at a speed of 1 to 2 Mbps meant that the technology allowed voice calls, digitized voice, and conferencing.


With 4G the speed of the internet drastically grew. Launched in the 2010s, 4G ran at a maximum speed of 100 Mbps-1 Gbps. As a faster and better version of 3G, 4G enabled high internet speeds, streaming, apps, and virtual reality.


5G is a leap. It has a more standard air interface that is capable of connecting the entire world. It was launched in the 2020s and has a speed of more than 1Gbps. It will undoubtedly make connection, connectivity, and control easier for consumers, the government, and the business sector.  

Difference between 5G and 4G

Although 4G networks are widespread today, they are not yet up to the task of supporting the burgeoning demand for data from expanding mobile devices. 5G networks are designed to provide the data capacity that will help handle the increasing number of connected devices that are already on the market while opening up the airwaves to innovative use cases such as driverless cars.

In addition, 5G networks will allow for the faster transfer of real-time data to and from the internet.

Both 4G and 5G utilize millimeter-wave radio waves to achieve low-latency connections that are capable of covering large areas. Nevertheless, both 4G and 5G are based on different spectrum bands. This means that they do have a few key differences. Let us look at the table below to easily understand and remember these technology versions: 

5G makes use of higher radio frequencies of 28 GHz. High-frequency connectivity results in it being energy-efficient, precisely 90 percent more energy efficient than 4G.4G makes use of lower radio frequencies of 700 MHz to 2500 MHz which are not energy efficient.
5G has the capability to transfer more data at a faster speed.In comparison, 4G transfers lesser data at a lesser speed.
5G guarantees lower latency. The maximum possible latency is 1 millisecond, and the expected latency is 10 milliseconds.The 4G network operates with a greater latency. For 4G, the latency is roughly 20 to 30 milliseconds..
This technology uses a millimeter-wave spectrum which means that there is an increase in connected devices in terms of coverage area. In geographic terms, 5G can connect one million per square kilometer.4G does not support maximum internet coverage per geographical area. It provides about 4,000 devices per square kilometer.
By using new digital technology 5G improves speed, capacity and coverage.4G has caused congestion and lesser coverage. It is less efficient when compared to 5G.

What are the features of 5G Technology?

What are the features of this high-speed 5G technology? 5G has the potential to revolutionize countless industries, economies, and even daily life with its advanced capabilities. Here are a few pointers dictating the features of 5G technology

  1. Increased bandwidth and speed 
  2. Low latency 
  3. Greater density 
  4. Power efficient 
  5. Security 

5G technology uses higher radio frequencies and less cluttered airwaves to increase signal coverage. These higher bands, called millimeter waves, can carry more data faster. 5G operates in the millimeter-wave spectrum (30-300 GHz). Previously, these bands were unused, expensive, and unavailable to most people.

Additionally, they are susceptible to blocking by physical objects. To overcome this, 5G will use multiple antennae. If the technology proves to be a success, we will soon see it on our phones.

In a nutshell, 5G has a much higher data capacity and speed internet than 4G LTE networks. You can expect your 5G home broadband to download movies in just seconds, stream 4K movies without buffering, and experience seamless virtual reality or augmented reality.

The new technology will also enable higher capacity, and low latency, and allow remote processing to be done in real-time. Hence, it will be a huge benefit to businesses and consumers.

What are the different Bands of 5G?

There are three types of 5G spectrum: low, mid, and high-frequency spectrum bands. Each frequency band has a different speed and range and is used for different purposes. Let’s take a look at each one separately: 

Low-Band Spectrum

Low-band 5G transmits at 600 to 700 MHz and offers blanket coverage of large areas. It does have good coverage and internet speed for data exchanged but the maximum speed is capped at 100 Mbps. So, it can serve specific industry demands of coverage, especially in telecommunication where there is no strict demand for high speed. 

Mid-Band Spectrum

Mid-band 5G provides higher peak speeds but has limitations in terms of penetration of signals and coverage. Mid-band 5G is expected to become the most common implementation of 5G networks in the coming years. This is because the mid-band 5G spectrum is a logical compromise between network speed, network efficiency, and coverage, and it is suited for medium-density urban areas and less-dense rural areas.

High-Band Spectrum

High-band 5G spectrum provides the highest speed among the three bands. However, it has far more limited coverage and signals penetration strength.

The first 5G networks are being rolled out in the US and in Europe. While high-band 5G is already gaining ground in the UK and the US, low-band 5G will follow in a few years.

Advantages of 5G Technology in India

With the advent of 5G technology, India will be one of the first countries in the world to make use of 5G mobile networks. While the question of whether India is set for the 5G leap remains, let us briefly look at the advantages this can usher in.

  1. High-Speed Mobile Networks –  Access to high-speed voice connection and internet data speed through mobile broadband networks and cellular technology will enable better connectivity within India. Faster data services will change the way we experience education, health, shopping, entertainment, and much more. This boom in the digital economy can help lessen socio-economic barriers among citizens and communities in India.
  2. Smart Cities – By educating citizens and pushing for innovative industry solutions, India can aim for a larger number of efficient smart cities. There are many applications that can change the lives and livelihoods of many people, including traffic control, weather updates, smart power grids, energy management, local broadcasting, water resource management, street lighting, crowd management, emergency response, and many others.
  3. Smart Farming – India is in dire need of innovations within the farming sector to increase productivity, lessen loss and lessen long-term harm to nature. Smart farming can utilize GPS technology and RFID sensors to help with tracking the location of livestock, accessing irrigation control systems, enhancing energy management, and so on. 
  4. Healthcare – Within the healthcare sector, developments can cater to both medical procedures and patient care. A reliable wireless network connecting different sides of the globe can enable better doctor-patient checks. Further development of smart medical devices can help not just medical practitioners with surgeries but also medical devices such as wearables that can monitor a patient’s medical condition. 
  5. Industrial Growth – Introduction of smart wireless 5G technologies will enhance the functioning of industries and lead to better automation. There are many areas in which this will work, including automated equipment, safety, maintenance, smart packaging, tracking, shipping, energy management, and logistics.
  6. Logistics and Shipping – When compared to the previous generation of 4G networks, 5G offers faster and cheaper infrastructure delivery. Sensor-embedded networks will enable the real-time relay of data to improve transportation infrastructure. In addition to vehicle-to-vehicle communications, 5G will improve the overall efficiency of transportation infrastructure.
  7. Employment Generation – With the advent of 5G, a wider horizon of opportunities will burgeon in job opportunities in device manufacturing, application developers, marketing, logistics and analytics, and so on. This growth in opportunities will supplement education and have a noticeable economic impact.

Disadvantages of 5G Technology in India

The advantages of 5G are many. It will provide faster network data speeds, allow users to download larger files, and will improve efficiency and communication. It will also support online learners and stream high-bandwidth multimedia. However, there are a few disadvantages. Let us learn them as well. 

  1. Infrastructure – A prerequisite for the efficiency of 5G technology is the enabling of smaller cells or geographical areas of connectivity. Thus, the existing architecture of communication systems needs to be altered or the 5G tech needs to be integrated into the existing infrastructure 
  2. Capital – One of the major delays in the development of 5G in India is the lack of adequate capital. Telecom companies such as Bharti Airtel, and private telecom players like Vodafone Idea are finding it difficult to make monetary investments. This also creates a financial liability for the consumer who has to upgrade their cellular technology. 
  3.  Subsidies – The chance of being aided by government subsidies is less likely. As a result of ongoing fiscal deficits, governments set high reserve prices for spectrum auctions. Further, India might be decreased revenue from the service owing to the fact that it is late in adopting this technology. 
  4. Digital Divide – While one can hope of decreasing the digital divide, chances are that 5G will widen the gap between the urban and rural, the rich and poor. 

While the 5G technology advantages are numerous, the disadvantages are not ignorable. These technologies are controversial and will not be available in India or tested worldwide.

What Are The Plans For 5G Technology In India?

Currently, India is one of the few countries in the world that has not yet made the switch to 5G technology. While the benefits of this current technology are numerous, they also have some drawbacks.

Ultimately, the benefits of 5G technology are far greater than personal transformation. But the downside is that India may be a long way from getting 5G wireless technologies for the masses. 

Nevertheless, India is making plans to launch 5G technology and improve its telecom sector. Union Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that India is planning to have full-fledged 5G mobile services by March 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the auction by the Department of Telecommunications which will assign bidders to provide 5G technology. The auction is expected to be completed by the end of July following which suitable telecom companies will be consulted to make 5G available at the earliest.

The government recently announced a three-year trial of 5G technology, with an investment of Rs 224 crore. The test bed will develop broadband, low-latency, and other 5G applications for India. Moreover, Ericsson is building India-specific 5G use case labs for various sectors. During the trials, the DoT will evaluate the various applications that are needed to make 5G an affordable and reliable technology.

Also Read: Essay on Artificial Intelligence UPSC

Challenges for 5G Rollout in India

Recently the Ministry of Communication has confirmed that mid and high-band 5G spectrum is expected to be made use of by Telecom Service Providers to roll out 5G technology-based services. 

While the country has made progress in increasing fiber connectivity, challenges still lie ahead. Currently, only 34% of mobile towers in the country are fiber-optic, a key prerequisite for 5G rollout.

Fiberization is also required to avoid spectrum wastage. As spectrum is highly expensive, telecom operators are eager to invest in fiber but are faced with challenges, such as right-of-way. Industry estimates suggest that India will need to invest approximately Rs 45,000 crores in fiber infrastructure by 2024.

One of the biggest challenges to the Indian 5G rollout involves cost. The technology is still in its early stages of development. The Indian market is much smaller than that of the US, but the 5G potential is considerable. It will create more jobs and contribute to inclusive growth. But it will need a complete revamp of the existing communication systems.

To be effective, 5G will need to change the fundamental architecture of the existing communication systems. Unlike the existing 4G and 3G networks, 5G cannot carry large amounts of data over long distances. There are many other challenges, but fiber connectivity infrastructure and cost remain at the top of these.


Today, major telecom carriers are rolling out 5G networks in populated areas. In the U.S., T-Mobile has started rolling out its 5G network using Sub-6 technology. All major U.S. carriers are working to build nationwide captive networks using 5G. However, it will likely take a few years before 5G is available everywhere. 

The Indian government has been moving steadily toward 5G technology but is lagging behind on implementation. It may be too late to catch up with the international competition. By the time India rolls out 5G services, the world may have already moved on to 6G networks. And if the country waits, it will be too late to catch up. And by then, 5G technology might be too late to catch up as 6G might be on the way!

FAQ related to 5G Technology

Why is 5G so important?

The National Digital Communications Policy of India for 2018 underlines the significance of 5G by stating that the fusion of a number of cutting-edge innovations, including 5G, the Internet-Of-things (IoT), the cloud, and data analytics, as well as a burgeoning start-up group, will strengthen and boost India’s digital engagement and open up a whole new outlook of potentials.
5G is a breakthrough technology owing to its increased bandwidth and speed, low latency, greater density, and power efficiency. 

What frequency does 5G operate at?

5G employs the use of high frequencies called millimeter waves which fall under the frequency spectrum of 30-300 GHz.

How is 5G different from 4G?

5G is different from 4G in several ways. It offers faster download and upload speeds, lower latency, and the ability to connect more devices simultaneously. 5G also uses higher frequency radio waves that can carry more data than the lower frequency waves used by 4G.

What are the benefits of 5G technology?

The benefits of 5G technology include faster download and upload speeds, lower latency, better network reliability, and the ability to connect more devices simultaneously. 5G technology is expected to enable new applications and services that were not possible with 4G technology, such as virtual and augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and smart cities.

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