In a bid to stimulate the 5G ecosystem in India, Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson on 3 July formally launched the country’s first “Centre of Excellence (CoE) and Innovation Lab” for 5G at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.

“We may have missed the 3G and 4G bus, but India cannot afford to miss the 5G bus. It is a topic of immense relevance for India,” Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said at the lab inauguration. He added, “We need the entire eco-system to work together to make 5G a reality in India over the next 2-3 years”.

“The 5G Center of Excellence supports the government’s plans to foster a robust and vibrant 5G ecosystem in the country. We want India to be an active participant in the design, development and manufacturing of 5G-based technologies, products and apps,” Sinha noted.

The 5G innovation lab is essentially a testbed for the technology, which aims to bring together the industry and the academia, to leverage the 5G technology to develop new apps and business models.

The Minister said that the government is in the process of identifying potential use cases for 5G and sectors like health, education and disaster management, agriculture, autonomous vehicles, among others.

“I would like to urge the industry, academia, students and start-ups to leverage the Ericsson Innovation Lab to develop new 5G-based apps and business models that could potentially lead to better agricultural yields, better healthcare, smarter cities, more efficient manufacturing and enhanced lifestyles,” Sinha emphasised.

V Ramgopal Rao, director of IIT Delhi said, “With 5G forum being created, India wants to lead, not just for data consumption, but for creating and innovating new technology.” Rao added, “After the first centre being set up here [IIT Delhi], we want to see it open to other academic institutes eventually.”

Borje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, said that the company is leading 5G standardisation globally. ‘We would like to unleash the creativity and innovation of the Indian industry, academia and entrepreneurs to fully leverage and make 5G a reality in India,” he stressed.

He added, “India is already leading the 5G development. If you look at the country’s data consumption, it consumes four to five times more than any European country. And with 5G, the experience will only get better. The speeds will be higher by ten times, and there will be longer batteries by 100 times. 5G will drive total digitsation of the economy,” Ekholm concluded.

RS Sharma, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also boasted about India’s data consumption habits, saying, “India is a big player in data consumption. It consumes more data than any country in the world”.

Adding a very pertinent point to it, Sharma said, “We need to solve our own problems by leveraging 5G technology. We need India relevant changes.” He also insisted that the technology needs to come to us in the form of Plug & Play or modular additions, so it does not render existing products and devices useless.

As per an Ericsson report, 5G-enabled digitisation revenue potential in India will hit $27.3 billion by 2026.

The Indian operators can generate additional revenue of $13 billion if they take up roles beyond being connectivity and infrastructure providers to become service enablers and service creators, the company said. The largest opportunity will be seen, according to Ericsson, in sectors like manufacturing, energy and utilities followed by public safety and health sectors.

Some of the 5G use cases that could be implemented using the unique features of 5G technology include industrial control and automation, autonomous driving, safety and traffic efficiency services, hospital applications and medical data management, among others.

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