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Not Just Powering MSMEs, Start-Ups, 5G will Reduce Urban-Rural Digital Divide: Experts

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Not Just Powering MSMEs, Start-Ups, 5G will Reduce Urban-Rural Digital Divide: Experts

While some experts say 5G would work as a bridge, enhancing network, spectrum and energy efficiency in India’s rural areas, others believe there is a need to make a robust infrastructure to reap the technology’s benefits

Information and Technology (IT) minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had said last month that the government is investing about $30 billion to ensure last-mile network accessibility for 4G, as well as 5G in villages with an aim to build robust digital infrastructure in rural areas.

Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 1 launched 5G telephony services, which promise ultra-high-speed internet on mobile phones, declaring that it marks the start of a new era and presents a plethora of opportunities.

At the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022 conference last week, Modi announced the launch of 5G services in select cities. Over the next few years, the services will gradually expand to cover the entire country.

After the launch, News18 reached out to industry insiders to understand how this next-generation technology would help rural India in the coming years.

THE FUTURE WITH 5G
National Internet Exchange of India CEO Anil Kumar Jain said he believes 5G will provide opportunities for the country and its allied businesses, including MSMEs, start-ups, and creator industries, as well as it is expected to see the benefits of digital technology and revolution in both India’s urban and rural areas.

But the urban-rural divide is a reality in the country. While citing the issue, Arshdeep Singh Mundi, Managing Director, Jujhar-Netplus, told News 18 that 5G would work as a bridge, enhancing network, spectrum and energy efficiency in India’s rural areas.

“As it allows for the seamless integration of various networks and technologies, 5G will bring us one step closer to always being linked to everything and everywhere. For customer segments residing in rural areas, the integration of satellites in 5G networks will open the door to new applications in industries like agriculture, health, and emergency response,” the industry expert noted.

Similarly, Mihir Sanchala, Assistant Vice President of Technology, PlayerzPot, said with a reduced hindrance in connectivity through a faster network, the development will expand to tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

According to him, smartphone penetration in rural India will also enhance the progress of rural India by making them a potential market for various business entities.

“This will, in turn, result in an improved employment rate, digitalisation, and a better place in the business map of our country,” Sanchala added.

Another industry insider, Sriram Rupanagunta, co-founder and SVP, Engineering, Aarna Networks, said the government has set an aggressive goal of 80% coverage in a short period of time and if it is achieved, it will immensely help rural India since a lot of the areas will be covered.

He believes: “The massive economies of scale will also likely bring the prices down and make it affordable to the price-sensitive rural segment.”

“5G can help rural India in using the technology for precision agriculture. This will hugely benefit the farming sector and also enable less usage of pesticides,” added Rupanagunta.

Meanwhile, Ashwani Arora, Executive Director, Marketxcel explained that depending on the government policy framework and execution strategy, 5G may boost growth and lead to the development in rural geographies but only the network may not suffice.

Arora believes that there will be the need to make a robust support infrastructure that is quintessential to support this technology and reap its benefits.

He said: “While 5G offers seamless connectivity, it will ensure the control and monitoring of government programmes, assist in agriculture and will offer continuous information on best Agri practices, drive agri-preneurship, which is a basically helping farmer identify business opportunities and drive income beyond conventional farming.”

Along with providing healthcare-related services, Arora believes that due to 5G, village economies can become micro hubs for trading and empower entrepreneurs in rural folks.

 

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