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Why in news?

  • The British government has approached the US with the prospect of creating a 5G club of 10 democracies, including India, amid growing security concerns related to Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

What’s the issue?  | 5G CLUB  

  • This comes just months after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson granted Huawei a limited role in supplying kits for the UK’s 5G networks and capped its market share to 35 per cent. Back then, the UK was one of those who stood out in the face of a US-led drive to ban Huawei from entering the 5G sector.
  • But by the third week of May, the Johnson government came under increasing pressure from its own Conservative party members, who demanded that Huawei’s equipment should not be allowed in UK’s 5G networks beyond 2023, owing to potential national security concerns.
  • Following these demands, reports emerged the government was drawing up a plan to phase out Huawei from UK’s 5G networks in the next three years. Last week, a review was launched by the country’s intelligence chiefs, who would look into Huawei’s role in UK’s 5G plans.

The D10 Club 

  • The Britain is proposing a ‘D10’ club of democratic partners that groups the G7 nations with Australia and the Asian technology leaders South Korea and India.
  • It would include G7 countries – UK, US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and Canada – plus Australia, South Korea and India.
  • It is aimed for channelling investments into existing telecommunication companies within the 10 member states.
  • The group aim to create alternative suppliers of 5G equipment and other technologies to avoid relying on China.

Implications  | 5G CLUB

  • The key thrust behind this alliance is to allow more and more 5G equipment and technology providers to come up.
  • At the same time, ensure that these new entrants belong to like-minded democratic regimes, thus alleviating any security concerns.
  • The plan to form a democratic alliance in order to marginalise the Chinese tech giant Huawei comes at a time when there is rising global backlash against China for its initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • There is also growing consensus among the British political class regarding resetting relations with Beijing, following the global pandemic and the havoc it has caused in the UK.
  • Moreover, there has been a concerted effort by the US and several other countries to keep Huawei away from their countries’ 5G networks. These countries have raised concerns regarding potential surveillance and breach of their national security by China using the state-run Huawei.

Why This Is The Right Time For 5G In India?

  • Data consumption: India’s is the second biggest smartphone market in the world, leading to a meteoritic rise of data consumption — from 20 million terabytes in 2017 to 55 million terabytes in 2019. India consumes more than 11 GB/user/month — the highest in the world.
  • Lower fibre penetration: There is no practical way fibre connectivity can be enhanced quickly. This poses a serious challenge to back-haul capacities of the macro towers.
  • Industry 4.0: The Fourth Industrial Revolution (aka Industry 4.0) is powered by emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, Edge Computing, which need 5G to be effective. These, and such similar services, are required to raise additional revenue streams for the carriers which are already stressed with financial burdens.
  • Smart cities: 5G powers the technology driving smart cities. As India moves ahead with its Smart City vision, it must leverage 5G to ensure that the underlying technology remains relevant for a longer time.

Way Ahead  | 5G CLUB

  • Apart from creating a positive environment for 5G’s launch in India, the biggest issue GoI needs to resolve is to help telcos overcome the prevailing financial crisis.  The spectrum policy should focus on incentivising heavy investment in 5G, including support for long-term, exclusive, technology-neutral spectrum licences, instead of trying to look for financial windfall right away. GoI and operators should collaborate to create an ecosystem capable of leveraging 5G technology. A favourable policy will indirectly enable advances in areas including employment, technology and investment.
  • The shift from 4G to 5G is not incremental in nature, but transformational. Given what it means for the entire ecosystem, skipping it is not a choice India can afford.

Underlying Technologies For 5G

  • 5G is based on OFDM (Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing), a method of modulating a digital signal across several different channels to reduce interference. 5G uses 5G NR air interface alongside OFDM principles. 5G also uses wider bandwidth technologies such as sub-6 GHz and mmWave.

The Previous Generations Of Mobile Networks Are 1G, 2G, 3G, And 4G.

  • First generation – 1G
    1980s: 1G delivered analog voice.
  • Second generation – 2G
    Early 1990s: 2G introduced digital voice (e.g. CDMA- Code Division Multiple Access).
  • Third generation – 3G
    Early 2000s: 3G brought mobile data (e.g. CDMA2000).
  • Fourth generation – 4G LTE
    2010s: 4G LTE ushered in the era of mobile broadband.
  • 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G all led to 5G, which is designed to provide more connectivity than was ever available before.



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