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Governments are preparing to rollout 5G services as a priority to enable digital transformation in Ease of Doing Business, Governance, and Ease of living. 5G, the newest generation of mobile communication technology services, offers a diverse toolbox of features that will be used to solve business-related problems and social challenges in novel ways. Under a fully developed 5G ecosystem worldwide, it is estimated that around 30% of the end nodes will be user mobiles. In contrast, the remaining 70% will be nomadic or static Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Fortunately, 5G also includes a feature called 'Network Slicing' that enables the same network to behave differently for different end nodes and improve each type's needs. In recognition of the potential of 5G, India has decided to allow 'Private 5G networks that will typically be owned and operated by private entities to manage their systems and processes. In particular, over the next 15 years, it is remarkable that 5G's direct contribution to the Indian economy is anticipated to be USD 450 billion.
Cellular communication and some programming skills
5G is considered a platform that will enable the digitalization of society, businesses, and industries to catalyze a spur in economic growth and social progress. Alike most digital technologies, 5G also has the potential to offer numerous applications. Nevertheless, it is improbable that all the applications will begin immediately after the 5G rollouts. Undoubtedly, 5G network services will be the first to be offered to the consumer mobile segment. As popularly pronounced, this is expected to bring much higher data speed and lower latency. Nevertheless, that does not even pickle the tip of the 5G iceberg.
The First set of the earliest applications of 5G will be in sectors with high digital technology maturity, called 5G-ready sectors, like Industry 4.0, Smart Cities, and FinTech. These are typically sectors that use wireless networks as an operational technology in their respective systems to improve efficiency and resilience. Therefore, incorporating 5G will trigger another transformative spring in a forward direction through persistent digitization to bring superior flexibility, scalability, and responsiveness to such systems. Moreover, 5G will also enable the convergence of several technologies in these sectors that including Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Additive Manufacturing, Autonomous Robots, and Drones.
New age industry conceptualizes the rapid convergence of these technologies. In the 21st century, industries and societal forms needs a makeover due to increasing interconnectivity and smart automation. 5G will act as the gears of this system, enabling these technologies to operate with each other. A prime example is a manufacturing sector where every stage (of the manufacturing process) from supply management and inventory to quality control and distribution will be automated, with interconnected machines and systems. This will help optimize the end-to-end manufacturing process, Improving output volumes and reducing process times. Similarly, the operation and maintenance of these machines and techniques will also be automated, with drones and robots conducting inspections and automatically scheduling repair tasks.
Safety systems will be equipped with various sensors and continuously monitor the manufacturing systems' and workers' vital parameters. These systems will significantly improve the workers' safety, increase the equipment's life, and reduce risk. However, the most significant value offering of 5G comes from its flexibility. In the event of any unplanned interruption to any machine, the manufacturing process can be reconfigured immediately - assisted by AI - to ensure the process is back up and running using the remaining available machines and equipment.
The modern-day standard of a city is a Smart City, which is characterized by applying digital technologies to enhance the lives of mankind. These cities will keep getting 'Smarter' as they incorporate more elements of 5G technology across different facets of their operations. In particular, as more vehicles and street furniture (light poles, traffic lights) are equipped with 5G nodes, the city can monitor and optimize traffic flows in real-time. This will significantly reduce city traffic woes, reduce commute times, and improve quality of life. Similarly, 5G will support the large-scale deployment of high-speed WiFi networks in public transport (buses and metros), public spaces (gardens and monuments), and significant events. It will simultaneously collate video feeds from all such places - including traffic monitoring videos - and with the assistance of ML, it will be able to identify potential risks faster.
Innovative technologies like UPI and RuPay are being exported worldwide to help improve their financial systems. Add 5G to the mix, and India is poised to become a global leader. Coupling UPI with GIS tools (Geospatial Information Systems) on an ultra-low latency 5G network will enable superfast, secure, and seamless payment experiences. This will bring about cashier-less stores and 'Pay As You Go' shopping models. Toll and entry tax systems had already been improved with FASTag technology.
Integrating GPS-based systems over an ultra-reliable 5G network will enable a completely 'stop-less' toll system. This will allow seamless entry and exit of toll roads while reducing their illegal usage. The payments bank model has been widely successful in India, with high adoption even in rural and remote regions. Using a high reliability 5G network with AI-based Virtual Banking Experience, the model can be transformed into a completely mobile-based formal banking.
The most challenging goals are due to their intersection with poverty, education, and access to infrastructure. Here, 5G will act as a catalyst for transforming this sector. One example is a Connected Ambulance, where the 5G-enabled ambulance includes features like a real-time feed of the patient and the patient's vitals that can be transmitted to the hospital, and even semi-automated robotic surgical tools. Together, they enable a faster and better medical response, offering potentially life-saving benefits.
Another example is that Point-of-Care Diagnostic devices enabled with 5G can significantly improve access to testing facilities. This will enhance the quality of diagnosis and encourage patients to return and continue with traditional and modern healthcare. Similarly, a hospital operating all the monitoring equipment and electronic health records on a private 5G network can enable just a handful of doctors and nurses to care for hundreds of patients effectively.
The education sector has evolved drastically after the adoption of digital education platforms, which still leaves room for improvement. Incorporating 5G into these systems will enable bridging this gap. There is already an effort to introduce multi-modal education through initiatives like PM eVIDYA. The high-quality content will be delivered to every student in the country with real-time translation into the student's vernacular. Further, 5G-enabled lab kits and interactive virtual labs for teaching science and mathematics can help make these subjects engaging for every student and help develop their critical thinking skills.
Similarly, a Digital University will not only enable the students to access higher education in their vernacular and learn from interactive labs. Still, it will equip them with the necessary vocational skills to improve their employability.
Conventional agricultural practices are resource intensive, offer mediocre yields, and cause irreparable damage to the soil and the environment. Simple applications such as deploying soil sensors, irrigation systems, and 5G-enabled systems will help drastically reduce water consumption. In regions with unstable water supply, solutions like this could help save the very livelihood of small farmers. Full-fledged precision agriculture systems enabled with 5G will create futuristic farms that employ autonomous robots and vehicles for crop monitoring and harvesting.
5G holds enormous potential and relevance in almost every sector, whether education, healthcare, FinTech, agriculture, transportation, or anything else. Each of these applications will generate employment opportunities that will enable the community's economic growth. The number of new jobs in the 5G value chain quadrupled between 2020 and 2021. This indicates that most of these jobs will likely come up in the next few years. This offers an ample window to develop the education and skill qualifications to work in the 5G value chain. The door to this opportunity has opened just a smidge, and now is the time to chase those skills