Data usage increased from 62 megabit to 1.6 GB per month, according to the Department of Telecom (DoT)
India has surpassed the US and China combined in data consumption and the prices, according to Sinha, have come down 93% to Rs 19 per GB.
The phenomenal growth in data usage and changing consumer behaviour has apparently led the government to bank upon the 5G technology.
Sinha also said that 9 lakh base transceiver stations were added in nearly 4 months, which have increased from 7.9 lakh to 17 lakh.
The government has also fetched Rs 66,000 crore and highest ever upfront payment of Rs 33,000 crore since 2012, in the 2016 spectrum sale.
The NDA-led government has formed a high-level 5G Forum that includes representatives from the industry and academia, and is tasked to chalk out the 5G roadmap for the country.
Sinha added that the country is on the cusp of a transformational journey that would make a difference in everybody’s lives.
“Government has set up a high-level forum in three key ministries to identify potential use cases in sectors like healthcare, education to leverage 5G’s low latency and high throughput with the use of Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communications,” he said.
Technologies such as the Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and cloud have been identified by the department as some of the capabilities arising out of 5G.
“Interoperability, standards and open APIs are some of the important elements,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman RS Sharma said, and added that India should not become a follower of Western technology but become a creator of its own.
Sharma said that autonomous cars might not be the relevant for India but there would be other areas such as agriculture and smart cities that can be explored to implement use cases.
Swedish gear maker Ericsson’s global chief executive and president Borje Ekholm said that India is a frontrunner in the 5G adoption worldwide, and the new technology would be important to drive country’s digitalisation.
“We are working with all operators to migrate from 4G to 5G,” Ekholm added.
Despite aggressive push from vendors predominantly Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei towards the 5G technology, and government’s initiatives such as the formation of test bed in Chennai, Indian service providers are apparently not much interested to make spends on newer technology anytime soon.
Trai has though recommended 5G rollout on the spectrum in the 3300-3600 Mhz band in the upcoming auction.
The National Digital Communications Policy, which is likely to be released this year, is expected to address the regulatory and licensing framework as well as put larger emphasis on futuristic technology such as the 5G and IoT.