Here are the biggest challenges for India as it rolls out its 5G network, according to a strategy expert

Here are the biggest challenges for India as it rolls out its 5G network, according to a strategy expert
5G sign at the Indian Mobile Congress 2019Business Insider India
  • India is waiting for 5G connectivity but there are challenges that need to be addressed.
  • Preeti Nagaraj from Ericsson spoke to Business Insider on the sidelines of the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2019 to highlight some of these challenges.
  • Aside from the pending 5G spectrum auction, there are also site acquisition and cost concerns.
The time is right for 5G network in India. Not only have telecom companies in the US and South Korea already offering these services, Indian telcos are also starting to try and test the technology. Vodafone Idea is already using 5G technology to improve its 4G offerings.

India is also awaiting the auction of 5G spectrum, and its use cases and applications are buzzing at India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2019 in New Delhi. At this event, Business Insider India caught up with Preeti Nagarajan, Head of Strategy for Business Area Networks at Ericsson.

She highlights the challenges that India will have to overcome before the dream of 5G becomes a reality.

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1. The need for a spectrum

The rest of world may already by rolling out 5G connectivity to its users but, in India, 5G spectrum is yet to be allocated. This means full-fledged trials are still pending which is needed for telecom operators to test their technology.

"India needs spectrum, let’s start there. It was very promising to hear that, before the end of the financial year, we should have the 5G spectrum auction in India. That needs to happen," said Nagarajan.

2. Spectrum is too expensive

One of the reasons that the 5G spectrum auction has been delayed in India is because its too expensive for telecom companies. India’s debt-ridden operators are still reeling under the pressure to keep 4G costs low.

But, there may be hope on the horizon. "They will come up with innovative policy solutions for pricing the spectrum. This helps our customers, the operators, to start bringing 5G in," stated Nagarajan.

The Indian government announced that it is looking into new ways to price the spectrum to accommodate the requests of the telecom companies at IMC.

3. Finding space for the spectrum

The biggest challenge when deploying 5G is acquisition of sites, according to Nagarajan. "Now we’re talking about Massive MIMO equipment, which are huge pieces of equipment out there. And, for every piece of spectrum out there, there’s equipment already at the site," she explained.

As network connectivity expands, more towers and more antennas will be required. The And ownership of site will also have a greater role to play. "It’s extremely important that we own the site. And we help and enable our customers to own their sites in a good way," said Nagarajan.

4. Affordable 5G devices

On the consumer front, even if 5G network connectivity comes in, affordable 5G phones are yet to make into the market.

"So, I think it’s in the roadmap. The technology is there for it," said Nagarajan.

Earlier at IMC, Qualcomm announced that they have partners working on affordable 5G devices but it’s yet to be seen when they will make their way to India.

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