New Delhi: The news that the Government has approved the start of actual 5G trials has come as a welcome sign of a healthier digital business ecosystem. While the nation’s Media and Entertainment segments seem more ready for such a transition, others need to step up hardware and system preparations for a self-reliant industry of the future.
5G Trials Imminent, DoT Says
The Ministry of Communications announced last week that it has approved the test phase for India’s own 5G high-speed networks. In practical terms, this means that the leading companies in the segment – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea (Vi) and the Government-run BSNL – will be able to run non-commercial trials for a period of six months.
Initially, telecoms will not connect the signal to existing consumer networks and will have a chance to select and set up essential equipment for later 5G rollout stages. Once this phase is successfully implemented, consumers will finally get the chance to join an immensely improved mobile network offering a much upgraded internet experience.
Many industries are eager to access a higher-speed network, including media outlets, entertainment platforms and the online gambling industry.
Bharat a Unique Online Market
The world’s second largest (and youngest overall) internet market has been a magnet for global online services and Big Tech for a number of years. India is a unique country and presents specific trends and characteristics – it is mobile-first, young and tech-savvy, quick to adopt new ideas and solutions. Software, fintech and other startups thrive in this business climate, both despite and because of its dynamics.
A prime example of deviating from expectations is the online gaming and e-gambling market. Both urban and rural players do not play for money exclusively but for casual fun and socialisation – traditional teen patti real cash game and popular rummy apps are learned at home, played over holidays and among friends. Websites where these games are being played is for example PureWin.com
Gaming industry experts were surprised to find out that bonus searching is quite uncommon, unlike older (e.g. European) markets where sign-up incentives are key for player acquisition. Fredrik Brännlund, COO of ENV Media, said “20% of gambling searches in Spain are related to bonuses, 35-40% in Italy, while only 0.3% in India.”
Given the importance of the market, offshore companies need to learn the culture and not try to “educate” their customers to foreign ways of consuming entertainment, online media and services.
5G Rollout in India – Where We Stand
While 5G spectrums available for testing (and subsequent permanent allocation) are yet unknown, the authorities have authorised both hardware and communication relay trials. Equipment tryouts will include both foreign network equipment – such as Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson – as well as Bharat-made hardware. The Centre for Development of Telematics and Reliance Jio will supply proprietary technology for the next few months.
Authorities have confirmed that Chinese vendors have been excluded at this stage. The Centre is pushing for a more self-reliant India (Aatma Nirbhar Bharat) and the move comes after a tense year of Sino-Indian relations – from border clashes to online industry bans on security grounds.
5G rollout would present an important upgrade for India’s tech industry and far beyond. Applications in tele-education, tele-medicine and agriculture have the potential to bridge the gap with rural and remote areas, while smart, secure and virtual applications could make the cities safer and boost the economy.
So far, India is lagging both in planning and implementation. Already active in 64 countries, 5G networks are well-developed in urban areas in China, the U.S and South Korea, as well as in some of the big European cities. The use of indigenous desi technology could speed up coverage and adoption rates with applied research institutes in Madras, Hyderabad and Delhi putting together their forces to provide native hardware and software solutions.