NEW DELHI — The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) foresees that 6G mobile technology will probably go mainstream within 10 years or less. Even as the nation is still struggling with the 5G rollout, the TRAI Chairman Dr PD Vaghela spoke recently of next-generation advancements in internet connectivity and digital market access.
5G to close the digital divide in Bharat
More importantly, telecom advancements are already transforming most sectors of the economy and giving social meaning to online access. Faster and cheaper internet connectivity brings Desi consumers closer, with day to day tasks increasingly better integrated into our mobile-first lives.
Simple yet massively popular online services like bill payment, remote working and purchasing tickets for an online lottery in India have become the norm. While many rural and remote areas still rely on 4G and even 3G, this is still a drastic improvement in terms of access to public services, education and commercial opportunities that were not there a few years ago.
The next wave of mobile tech upgrades is only destined to improve this, closing further the “digital divide” between urban and rural areas. Wireless access over 5G networks has been established as an effective alternative to fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) internet, currently covering only a third of India’s population.
There are certain cross-sector arrangements to be made, arguably. Businesses have been pressing the public sector to be more permissive and facilitate a 5G rollout. The online market opportunities are there for most to see, as Desi tech startups and use cases support the mounting evidence of 5G benefits in today’s globalized economy. Yet it’s namely the public and social value of next-generation mobile access that makes its faster adoption a worthwhile effort.
Online gaming and entertainment illustrate new consumption models
India’s favourite real-money game — the legal lottery — has been quick to digitize operations, an industry study reveals. At its peak, the sheer amount of computer-based transactions shows the efficiency of such an approach, allowing the major distributor networks to support around 27 million daily transactions over 37 thousand terminals across India.
Crucially, these figures consider only sales via intranet terminals, a concept quickly and amply becoming outdated for hundreds of millions of smartphone users. The emphatically mobile-based Indian market relies less and less on physical resellers and ever more on online distribution alternatives.
The same is valid for daily access to sports, media and entertainment channels across different online platforms and apps. Desi consumers share experiences and entertainment trends both with their domestic and global peers more easily than ever before.
Even after claims of TRAI, still a lot of work to do
Despite all the tech-based optimism, there is plenty of work that regulators and legislators are facing. The need to coordinate policy and practice with telecoms and entrepreneurs is evident, with market disruptions calling for both facilitation and attentive management.
The evolution of telecom structures across the nation, however, is done for the public good, first and foremost. Better connectivity encourages digital innovation, economic and social development. It attracts investors, both domestic and foreign, which bring novel solutions to our personal and public needs.
Consumer interest is there, inevitably, and next-generation technology is also just around the corner. The public sector is aware that digitization is a crucial horizontal element of most economic sectors and market transformation trends. Already a backbone of our society, it is bound to get its due attention and careful long-term planning.