March 26, 2023

5G will ensure that India will not only be a consumer of technology, but also play an active role in the development and implementation of technology, Prime Minister said while launching 5G services in the country on October 1.

Speaking at the sixth India Mobile Congress, Modi said that from rural villagers to labourers and the poor, everyone is a stakeholder in the 5G experience, stressing on the all encompassing nature of 5G which is expected to reduce the technological and economic divide among rural and urban India.

He said the can be used to expand the financial system, raise productivity and provide intensive development across all spheres of society. Speaking to an audience which included Reliance Jio’s Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Bharti Mittal and Vodafone Idea’s Kumar Mangalam Birla, Modi said the MSME industry should be provided with opportunities to construct hardware components for the technological requirements of the telecom industry.

The prime minister said 5G is the culmination of a series of policy steps undertaken by the government in aggressively expanding tech resources. He said the average mobile internet user is currently utilising 14 GB data per month. “Ïn 2014, the price of 14 GB data used to be Rs 4,200 per month. Now, the same data is available at Rs 125-150,” the prime minister said.

“The aim of digital India is to bring technologies to the people which both work with them, and for them. It is a holistic vision of development for the country,” Modi stressed. He pointed out that there were 60 million broadband internet users before 2014, which have now grown to more than 8 billion. The number of total internet connections has risen from just 20 million before 2014, to 850 million currently, with more connections in rural India, he added.

Read more: PM Modi launches 5G services at India Mobile Congress 2022 in New Delhi

More than 170,000 gram panchayats are now also connected with optical fibres compared to just 100 gram panchayats before 2014, the prime minister said. On mobile phone manufacturing, Modi said the government had decided to focus on four pillars. The price of devices, digital connectivity, the price of data and most importantly, the thought of a digital first thought process, he said.

Modi said that India was now home to more than 200 mobile manufacturing units, as compared to pre-2014 when there were just 2 of these. “India is now at the second position in terms of mobile phone manufacturing. From importing 100 percent of our mobile phone requirements, we are now exporting mobile phones,” he stressed.

Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said 5G services would bring fundamental change in many sectors like education, health, agriculture, logistics, and banking. “Telecom is a foundation and gateway of Digital India. It is a medium to deliver digital services to the masses. Therefore, the socio-economic development of the country needs a healthy and strong telecom sector,” Vaishnaw said.

Vaishnaw added the government has achieved structural reform by simplification of procedures. An average permit in the telecom sector used to take more than 300 days, which has been reduced to less than seven days today.

Technological leap

The Indian economy is expected to rake in $455 billion between 2023 and 2040 as a direct result of 5G, according to the GSM Association (GSMA), the global industry association representing over 750 mobile network operators.

5G will be key to robotics, artificial intelligence and internet of things, drivers of the fourth industrial revolution. A series of innovative technologies using 5G to leverage these key tech drivers were showcased by domestic and global tech giants to the prime minister.

This includes smart metering of power connections to reduce distribution losses, ambulances equipped with 5G to remotely provide tele-surgeries in the rural hinterland featured by Airtel, and a smart manufacturing facility set up by Ericsson, among others. Modi also remotely drove a vehicle in Sweden through a tech update pioneered by Qualcomm, an innovation which can lead to transportation in hazardous areas without human intervention.

The Prime Minister also saw a series of use cases of 5G showcased by the three major telecommunication service providers – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea across the education and transportation sector. He also connected to a student from Uttar Pradesh through hologram .

India is aiming to roll out an end-to-end ecosystem for 5G, being only the fifth nation after Finland, Sweden, South Korea and China, to do the same.

Touted as the largest telecom, media, and forum in Asia, the four-day long India Mobile Congress is jointly organised by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

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