NEW DELHI: In an interaction with ET’s Danish Khan, Ericsson’s global head of 5G and RAN Architecture, Joakim Sorelius said that India will not lag when it comes to the 5G technology as it has already become an advanced 4G market with rapid data uptake.
He also talked about the role of ecosystem partners and cross-industry players to develop 5G use cases. Edited excerpts
Is India ready to embrace the 5G technology in pace with global markets?
5G technology can take part in several spaces in India. The role of ecosystem is important and it is further enhanced when it comes to the type of sensors and the type of devices that are needed in industries. Here we have a cooperation with the IITs where have the 5G test bed that startups can use to test out their device and sensor ideas.
Is Indian government taking the right steps to bring 5G to the country?
The journey to 5G starts with 4G and India is an advanced 4G market today. All the work that is ongoing to shape the regulation and the spectrum strategy for India as a country which is very encouraging I think. So from that perspective, having a strong 4G deployment and a very focused strategy from the government for 5G puts India in a good place to meet the 2020 time frame that we are talking about. I don’t see India lagging behind in 5G rather the opposite I see a strong momentum and a quite coherent view from the government and the industry.
What steps do telecom operators need to take to make their network 5G-ready?
I think that what the regulator can do is to make sure that the infrastructure is simple enough to deploy the system in the networks. Also, to see that that there is frequency bounds that you can operate on and that the economics in terms of spectrum and other assets are reasonable and from what I hear today, India is taking the steps to change the regulations in this manner.
The absolute first step is to unify the spectrum in play which has been the drawback for India in the past from the 2G/3G/4G perspectives. Spectrum situation was uncertain and took very long time to get harmonized but today that will be done from the start with 5G which is really crucial. 5G uses 4G as anchor layer to provide coverage in the beginning, everywhere before it is fully rolled out. The first step that the operator has to take is to actually prepare their 4G and enhance 4G network with better transport, right architecture for 5G, to increase the capacity through all the software features and the new hardware available in the market. Then they have to roll that out as a precursor when 5G is ready in terms of 3GPP standards.
What future do you see for technologies like 2G and 3G?
It depends from market to market I must say. There are so many devices deployed especially for 2G that it’s hard to see that 2G will go away anytime soon. 3G is more similar to 4G in that sense and you need both in every network, however, there are differences from market to market. I see 4G staying along for a long time, 3G reducing a little bit and 2G also staying for a very long time.
How do you view the Indian market when it comes to 5G?
We often say that Indian market isn’t a developed market but I must say that from 4G and data consumption perspective India is an extremely advanced market. India is definitely on the forefront of data consumption and that to me also means that India will have to be in the forefront of 5G to satisfy that demand.
How are you working towards developing the 5G ecosystem along with your partners?
Traditionally we always engage with chipset vendors for the device industry to make sure that the chips that are being brought to the market are fully compatible with the networks that are also being standardized. So, that is one aspect of it and of course 5G is no exception. On top of that, in 5G, we are working together with operators. We have 38 MoUs with different operators and together operators, academia and industries are trying out different use cases for 5G, be it transportation, mining, autonomous cars, water project with sensor among others. We have connected vineyards and things like that to see that the use cases that we are talking about in 5G actually make economic and practical.