India may not have benefitted from the first three industrial revolutions, but it will take full benefit of the fourth industrial revolution and will lead it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday.

PM Modi rolled out 5G services with Bharti Airtel (Airtel) being the first company to start 5G in eight cities across the country. Reliance Jio also said it will expand 5G telephony services offering ultra-high-speed Internet connectivity to every part of the country by December 2023. It will start rolling out 5G services from Diwali , said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries.

The event took place at the sixth India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022 organised by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) where the Prime Minister underlined that the use of 5G technology is not confined just to speedy Internet access but has the potential to transform lives.

“The cost of data (in India) is among the lowest in the world. It has come down from ₹300 per GB to about ₹10 per GB...the cost of data in India has remained very low. It is a different matter that we did not make a fuss about, and did not launch big advertisements. We focused on how the convenience and ‘ease of living’ of the people of the country increased,” he said.

Going by the average consumption of 14 GB of data per month, the data cost came down from ₹4,200 to ₹125-150, he said.

Creating opportunities

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, said the company will roll out 5G services in several cities across the country by March 2023 and across India by March 2024.

“I believe that with 5G, hundreds of used cases will create thousands of entrepreneurs and dozens of new unicorns,” Mittal said.

“I would like to remind Mukesh (Ambani) when he gave a lot of pace to 4G and we had run very fast to catch up with it. When Covid hit, the pulse of this nation did not stop even for a minute. Our work continued round the clock and its credit goes to Digital Mission,” he said adding that the Prime Minister gave the slogan of start-ups, which led to the creation of unicorns every month.

Ambani said by harnessing the combined power of demography and digital technologies, India can become the world’s leading digital society, accelerating growth by making the country a $40 trillion economy by 2047, up from $3 trillion now and increasing per capita income rapidly to over $20,000, from $2,000.

“It will not be an exaggeration to say that 5G is like a ‘Digital Kamadhenu’, the heavenly cow that grants whatever we desire,” he said adding that by bringing artificial intelligence (AI) into every domain, 5G can power India’s emergence as the world’s intelligence capital.

“This will help India become a major exporter of high-value digital solutions and services...all these will trigger a huge explosion of entrepreneurship in the country, which in turn will attract even larger investments and create millions of new jobs,” Ambani added.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group pledged in taking India on “the new pace of country’s digital journey” by launching its 5G services.

“We will leverage our strong presence in rural India, our enterprise customers, our tech partners, and global experience of Vodafone Group for progressively rolling out our 5G network and services in the coming period,” Birla said.

A new era

PM Modi also said that 5G ushers in a new era, the beginning of infinite opportunities.

“New India will not remain a mere consumer of technology, but India will play an active role in the development and implementation of that technology. India will play a big role in designing the future wireless technology, and manufacturing related to it,” the PM said.

He pointed out that India was dependent on other countries for 2G, 3G and 4G technologies. But with 5G, India has created a new history and is setting a global standard in telecom technology.

He said India will see the promise of the technology realised in this lifetime. He urged the leaders of the telecom industry to visit schools and colleges and unleash every aspect of the new technology. Modi also asked them to create an enabling ecosystem for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to prepare spare parts for electronic manufacturing.

He pointed out that many farmers have learnt how to fly drones already and started making use of them to spray insecticides and pesticides in the fields. He assured all that India of the future will guide the world in the upcoming technology sector.

Talking about Digital India, the PM said that some people think that this is just a government scheme. “But Digital India is not just a name, it is a big vision for the development of the country. The goal of this vision is to bring that technology to the common people, which works for the people, works by connecting with the people.”

Minister of Communications, Ashvini Vaishnaw, Minister of State for Communications, and Secretary, Department of Telecommunications, K Rajaraman were also present.

The IMC 2022 is being held between October 1 and 4 with the theme of “New digital Universe”, organised by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).