May 22, 2019

The Future of Security: Mapping the 5G Ecosystem

  • Dr. V K Saraswat Member, Technical, NITI Aayog, Former Secretary, DRDO & Scientific Advisor to RM

    Dr. V K Saraswat
    Member, Technical, NITI Aayog, Former Secretary, DRDO & Scientific Advisor to RM

  • Aruna Sundararajan, IAS Secretary, Department of Telecom, Government of India

    Aruna Sundararajan, IAS
    Secretary, Department of Telecom, Government of India

  • Ajay Prakash Sawhney, IAS Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India

    Ajay Prakash Sawhney, IAS
    Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India

The next era of mobile communications is approaching, promising to transform the way we use the internet. Equipment makers and wireless carriers around the world are rushing to test and roll out the next generation of wireless networks, which is projected to be as much as 100 times faster than the current 4G standard. 

Synergia Foundation's 55th Forum brought together 57 experts from across government, policymakers, scientists, technologists and service providers to fast-track India's path to 5G.

Context

5G is the foundation for communications and computing of tomorrow that will bring at least three new advancements: (1) greater speed to move the increasing volumes of data we produce; (2) lower latency to be more responsive; and (3) the ability to expand beyond computers and phones to encompass the Cloud and a whole new universe of devices (estimated in the billions) attached to the network.

Although India is targeting 2020-2021 for the 5G rollout, the country is yet to allocate 5G spectrum to operators even for the trial of use cases. To successfully operate a 5G network, telecom operators need cloud infrastructure, distributed network architecture, and an agile operating model. Indian telecom operators will also need to develop capability in the form of skills, competence, and operating models. An entirely new ecosystem will be required to support this development. Meanwhile, the paradigm of security in 5G is continuously transforming as technologies evolve and newer use cases and applications become pervasive and susceptible to cyber attacks.

India requires policies that help foster 5G's growth and the right balance of policymaker support and private sector innovation to make the 5G opportunity a reality. Synergia Foundation recognizes that a calibrated approach is crucial for aligning national security, internal capabilities, investment needs and strategic intent across stakeholders.

To this end, Synergia Foundation brought together 57 experts from across the government, civil servants, scientists, technologists and telecom service providers including Lt. General Rajesh Pant (Chief of National Cyber Coordination Center), Mr. K.D. Nayak (Former Director, DRDO), Dr. U.B. Desai (Director, IIT Hyderabad), Prof. Anurag Kumar (Director, IISc, Bangalore), Prof. Abhay Karandikar (Director IIT Kanpur), Dr. Sudhir Kamath (Director General MED-DRDO), Mr. Jayant Patil (Director, L&T), Mr. Ajay Seth IAS (MD, BMRCL), Dr. Rajneesh Goel (Additional Chief Secretary, Government of India), Mr. Randeep Singh Sekhon (CTO, Airtel) and Mr. K. Alagesan (CMD, ITI Limited).

 The experts engaged in multi-disciplinary ideation to collectively chart a framework to enable the design, development, manufacturing and secure deployment of indigenous 5G technologies, products and services in the country.

A key discussion in the forum was the agreement of a ‘critical’ window for India to develop a coherent plan for 5G networks. Participants agreed on a broad 12-24 month timeframe within which India should plan and execute a national mission for 5G technology. The mission was also described as being like the nation’s Atomic Energy and Space programs.

 

 

Focus areas of discussion

  • Capabilities: What 5G capabilities exist, what needs to be developed and how?
  • Deployment: How can an early rollout of 5G services be enabled to maximise the value proposition of 5G as a technology?
  • Technology: How can indigenous industrial and R&D capacity be empowered, especially for design and Intellectual Property?
  • Manufacturing: How can the manufacturing base for 5G technologies (semiconductor fabrication, equipment assembly and testing) be expanded?
  • Cybersecurity: How can cyber risks be mitigated across the 5G value chain, especially in undersea cables?

Experts

Dr. V K Saraswat
Dr. V K Saraswat
Member, Technical, NITI Aayog, Former Secretary, DRDO & Scientific Advisor to RM

Dr. Vijay Kumar Saraswat is an Indian scientist who formerly served as the Director-General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Indian Minister of Defence. He is the key scientist in the development of the Prithvi missile and its induction in the Indian armed forces. He is a recipient of the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.

Aruna Sundararajan, IAS
Aruna Sundararajan, IAS
Secretary, Department of Telecom, Government of India

Aruna Sundararajan is India's Telecom Secretary and Chairman of the Telecom Commission. Ms. Sundararajan was instrumental in establishing the IT department of Kerala way back in 1998. As Kerala's founding IT Secretary, she had conceived and spearheaded the Akshaya project, first started in the rural district of Malappuram, Kerala, India, and subsequently extended to the entire state.

Ajay Prakash Sawhney, IAS
Ajay Prakash Sawhney, IAS
Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India

Ajay P. Sawhney has served in various key positions for both the Government of India and the governments of his cadre. Between 1999-2005, as Special officer for IIIT Hyderabad and Secretary IT for the state government, Ajay Prakash Sawhney came to the limelight through his success in shaping the conceptual model and development of IIIT Hyderabad.