The real leverage of next-generation 5G technology would come from the capability to build an entire ecosystem spanning devices, networks, applications and services, Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said on Thursday.

This would require strong collaboration between the government, private sector players and academia, he added.

Critical enablers for Digital India

Noting that the telecom sector is the connectivity backbone for the country and its businesses, Vittal stressed on the importance of infrastructure, affordable spectrum and stable, long-term policies, terming them critical enablers for Digital India.

“As technology evolves and as we get to a 5G world, I believe there is a need for very strong collaboration between academia, government, private sector...that not only includes includes digital players, manufacturing players, banks, IT companies, to see how this ecosystem can be built, because 5G as you know is about the ecosystem,” said Vittal, Bharti Airtel’s MD and chief executive for India and South Asia.

Speaking at the ‘Global R&D Summit 2020’ organised by FICCI, Vittal said the real leverage of 5G will come from fully-built, complete ecosystem spanning devices, networks, applications and services.

“So while the technology is going to get more efficient, the spectral efficiency of this technology will be far superior to anything that we have seen in the past.

“I think the real leverage of this technology will come from the capacity to build an ecosystem across devices, networks, applications and services... and that is really what this is all about,” he said.

Vittal noted that telecom and its transformative impact offered a “massive opportunity” for substantial productivity gains.

He further said the sector plays a critical role in all aspects, right from ensuring seamless functioning of payment systems to work-from-home, and from ensuring remote access to quality healthcare to enabling online education for children.

The industry is “uniquely positioned” to deliver major productivity benefits for the economy and businesses through digital technology, science and partnerships, he emphasised.

“One of the most critical enablers for Digital India is improved access to infrastructure, affordable and easy access to Right of Way, so we can lay out fibre when needed, affordable we can invest in building networks rather than spend money on just airwaves, and finally stable and long term policies to encourage more investments with lesser risks,” Vittal said.