Today, India has the second largest cell phone user population in the world. At the turn of the millennium, India was at an inflection point. The initiative to connect people with mobile technology accelerated adoption exponentially and improved the quality of life across the population. The stage is now set again for India to provide super-fast broadband service to areas including homes, villages, schools, and enterprises. By making the spectrum available, civic leaders can provide another round of growth to improve education, healthcare, and business for all citizens.
5G Fixed Technology and Millimetre Wave Spectrum
The next phase of torrential growth will be connecting every enterprise, education institute, industrial complex and energy grid to multi-gigabit-speed broadband, as is the case right now in digitally-connected countries. 5G is available in two forms: the standard that connects mobile devices and the lesser-known 5G Fixed which uses the 3GPP 5G-NR protocol and frame structure to connect buildings and places over long distances. Both ends of a link are at fixed locations, allowing for the ability to create air bridges over a long distance and deliver connectivity with superior economics.
Connecting places is equally important to connect people. Post-pandemic, the world has changed. Work is wherever you are. Education is wherever you are. Everything is media-rich with videos, audio, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These applications require a new network that has low latency high throughput and is very cost-effective while providing every home and enterprise with fantastic connectivity. The performance advantages of fixed wireless broadband, along with attractive economics, will be very crucial to bridge the digital divide in India with velocity. Fixed wireless broadband will go deep and wide into India, bridging every remote corner all across the country.
Many enterprise and industrial organizations around the world have selected 3 GHz and millimeter wave fixed wireless technology as part of their digital initiatives. For example, mining, ports, airports and transportation applications have deployed private 5G networks to efficiently connect their operations.
Multi-gigabit fixed wireless uses the 24.25 GHz to 29.50 GHz spectrum for 5G and separately 60 GHz bands, also called V-band or millimeter wave. Today, many countries, including those neighbouring Southeast Asia, have made this spectrum available for use with immediate and valuable results.
The Benefits Will Reach Multiple Industries and Regions
5G provides an opportunity to enable these results because it has adopted high-speed fixed wireless broadband as part of its definition. Fixed 5G will be ideal for locations with a lower population density and, if leveraged equally, will roll out in smaller cities at the same time. This is crucial to grasp for a nation as vast as India with thousands of cities, lakhs of villages and varied, tough-to-connect terrain. These locations will now have access to improve education, healthcare, and robotic automation in industrial locations.
While consumers will have faster internet, the real benefits to society would be to provide education for every child and affordable remote healthcare for everyone, and training and vocational opportunities with advanced technology. These benefits will be enabled by emerging technology with the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality with real-time operations. In telemedicine, a doctor in a city could diagnose a sensitive condition for his patient in a village by combining high-fidelity video and using advanced instrumentation, possibly robotics with high-speed 5G connectivity with ultra-low latency and almost provide real-time experience. Sensors across the country would provide information to predict weather more precisely, providing an early warning of severe conditions. Schools and universities across the country would best prepare young people for life in a global community, where talent can come from anywhere.
A 5G fixed wireless network would complement and extend mobile 5G and maximize the benefits to people and play a significant role in addressing the digital divide while fulfilling Cambium Networks’ mission of Connecting the Unconnected.
Cambium Networks’ Commitment to Technological Advancements
Since being spun off from Motorola in 2011, Cambium Networks has delivered state-of-the-art fixed wireless solutions to thousands of networks in more than 150 countries around the world, connecting more than 12 million locations worldwide. In India, Cambium Networks has connected lakhs of locations, covering enterprise, villages, schools, government buildings and college campuses. The company’s largest global research and development center is in India.
Looking ahead, I am excited about the prospect of pervasive connectivity in India with high-speed, fiber-like broadband performance over the air via our 28 GHz and 60 GHz solutions. The V-band products have been designed and developed mostly out of our design center in India. We anticipate that the Indian regulators will approve this frequency band soon.
Accelerated adoption of V-band in the last mile will provide high-speed connectivity to improve education, healthcare and commerce. Recently, Hon Secretary DOT Sh. K Rajaraman said, “The onset of new services (based on 5G) will also necessitate setting of new types of network equipment, especially in rural, remote and hilly areas. So, therefore, we must promote the skilling of people to handle this.” This skilling should include Fixed 5G, which will be a fast and efficient way to deploy reliable connectivity in their villages.
With its enormous young talent pool, India will be at the center of this development, both in technology and as an economy. If service providers adopt both mobile and fixed 5G, these possibilities can unfold sooner and from across the nation. We have seen the success that mobile connectivity has delivered. Now we have the opportunity to get the full benefit of 5G by taking action to connect places with 5G Fixed technology. These technologies exist now, and Cambium Networks stands ready to bring these innovations to India and play our role in connecting our future generations and ushering in a new era of prosperity and wellbeing.
(The writer is an internationally acclaimed technocrat and one of the most respected Silicon valley entrepreneurs)