5G infra spreads to 481 districts but 37% of towers need key upgrade

They need to be fiberised for rolling out service that was launched 6 months ago

Subhayan Chakraborty New Delhi

Officials said the geographical extent of 5G is fast spreading given that the number of districts covered by 5G infrastructure was 387 a month back.

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As many as 481 districts nationwide have 5G infrastructure six months after the telecom service was launched, the government has told Parliament. But only 37 per cent or 8.84 lakh of India's 23.8 lakh total base transceiver stations (BTS) are fiberised, the process to provide 5G through optical fibres.
A BTS is a fixed radio transceiver in a mobile network, usually in the form of a tower. However, often new 5G radios are put up on an existing tower infrastructure to facilitate wireless communication between subscriber devices and telecom operator networks.

Government officials said 5G is spreading fast in the country, given that 387 districts had infrastructure a month back.
The two telecom service providers (TSPs) rolling out 5G in India, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, have said network speeds and capacity would improve once optical fibres come into play.

Immunity from electromagnetic interference, small size, and virtually unlimited bandwidth potential are among the many reasons why fibres are preferred for 5G service.
The traffic that is expected to be generated (i.e., data consumed by the people) after most 5G networks reach optimal capacity is much higher than earlier. Copper wires can’t carry that much data except over short distances.

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“To meet the growing demand of large bandwidth, throughput, and ultra-low latency, 65 percent of the telecom towers need to be fiberised and 12 lakh telecom towers need to be deployed by FY24," said T R Dua, director general of Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA), which also represents electric vehicle charging infrastructure and companies deploying fibre.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has said that at least 70 per cent of telecom towers should have fibre connectivity for the potential 5G services. It has said it is imperative that authorities at the state and local levels align with the new Right of Way (RoW) guidelines issued by the Centre to enable the growth of the infrastructure.

First Published: Mar 29 2023 | 8:08 PM IST

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