The coronavirus disease 2019(Covid-19) Pandemic and the associated public health interventions undertaken to contain it have resulted in widespread and unprecedented social disruption. This collective trauma has resulted in school closures, shuttered businesses, rising unemployment and a spike in emotional distress resulting from the pandemic and related secondary stressors. Both domestically and internationally, governments have issued ‘stay‐at‐home’ orders that have mandated that children engage in online learning and non‐essential businesses either close or have employees work from home. As a result, during this collective trauma, we have seen a substantial rise in the use of technology, which is already integrated into the fabric of modern life. People are now spending even more time with technology while consuming news media, watching television, using social media to connect with others, utilizing lifestyle apps to shop for groceries and other consumer goods, and engaging in home workouts. Moreover, increased engagement with technology is required of students for educational purposes and for those now working from home. Thus, there existed a well-planned and revised roadmap to the new telecom policy of our country to cater the needs of people in near future days to come.
According to industry estimates, the telecom sector is supporting 30%-35% of the country’s gross domestic product amidst the lockdown. With over 1.1 billion mobile subscribers as of May 2020, it is likely that over 80% of the country’s population has been engaged in meaningful transactions during the pandemic via telecom networks. India’s National Digital Communications Policy 2018 underscores the importance of 5G, stating that the convergence of a cluster of revolutionary technologies including 5G, along with a growing start-up community, promises to accelerate and deepen digital engagement. The 5G network can make Digital India a reality faster by supporting e-governance, smart-cities, online education, e-health, smart farming and more.
5G can transform a number of other verticals pivotal to India’s growth. The efficiency and reliability brought by 5G is the key takeaway for modern healthcare applications like remote surgery, patient monitoring, telemedicine, etc. Smart agriculture also needs massive data analytics, another focal area for 5G. Smart homes and smart cities will also get a boost with 5G. The network of sensors, smart utility meters and mobile applications demand near-zero latency for effective functioning—possible through 5G. In the automotive sector, 5G has made autonomous vehicle a reality. The ubiquitous connectivity promised by 5G will enable the defense force to leverage these advanced technologies for training. In law & order, as social norms evolve, enforcement agencies will have to turn to the use of advanced internet technologies to effectively communicate and collaborate within their system.
Considering 5G offers significant benefit for the citizens at all levels, it is imperative that the administration supports the industry with a strong and robust inter-ministerial policy structure for end-to-end 5G realization. Based on the report of the inter-ministerial High-Level Forum for 5G India 2020, the government is creating an enabling framework. There is a need for India to enact data protection laws which will enable the adoption and application of technology consistent with market conditions. To boost the morale of operators in India, the government should accept telecom as a key infrastructure for growth and relax the taxation and levies on telecom infrastructure and key projects.
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