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Will 5G truly change the OTT streaming experience in India?

Ripunjay Bararia, Co-founder & CTO, SugarBox Networks, says as the demand for seamless video streaming is on the rise, 5G could be a potential solution to deliver better UX with real-time processing

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jun 21, 2022 10:47 AM  | 4 min read
Ripunjay Bararia

From generation one to the fifth, the telecommunications technology has evolved to improve how audiences engage with each other and the world around them. The fifth generation (5G) technology isn’t just an advancement in mobile networks but a huge paradigm shift in connectivity, as we know it. The launch of 5G services in the country has been a long wait and unsurprisingly widespread with speculation. Although the 5G spectrum auctions are soon to begin in India, the intended benefits for the consumer or the enterprises has become a common conversation across the telecom and technology corridors. 

In countries where 5G has already launched, advantages such as digital connectivity and improved latency with faster data transfer – have been the visible benefits. Globally (or countries with this technology), 5G has become a catalyst for the entire internet experience such as Internet of Things (IoT), 4K video streaming, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and machine-to-machine communications. 

With 5G technology finally set to launch in India, industry experts believe that this will usher in a new era for Digital India. With demand for seamless streaming of high-quality video content on the rise, 5G could be a potential solution to deliver a stable, better UX with real-time processing. This is possibly one of the many reasons why OTT players are preparing for an enhanced viewing experience. Consumers are now counting on HD and 4K videos to be delivered faster (in terms of streaming quality). 

According to a report commissioned by Intel, the media and entertainment experiences enabled by 5G will generate up to $1.3 trillion (£0.9 trillion) in revenue by 2028. Moreover, with a total of 646 million active Internet users, proliferation of smartphones and the accessibility to the internet, India is creating a huge demand for the entertainment industry to flourish.

While expectations are soaring high, the ground reality of 5G is a little different. The implementation of 5G in the OTT and entertainment sector faces several challenges like network coverage, infrastructure, network congestion and digital inclusion. This tends to be the replay of what the world experienced during the 4G roll out – numerous users, lack of infrastructure and network with bottlenecks. Similarly, a higher reserve price for 5G spectrum will lead to higher consumer tariffs, making it unaffordable for the masses, further deepening the digital divide. Above all, the increased number of internet users will lead to network congestion and repeat the cycle of buffering, low speed and poor video quality. 

As the rollout and auctions move from a planning stage to execution, it’s important to evaluate how the benefits of this technology can be extended to audiences across the length and breadth of the country. From an on-ground deployment perspective, the adoption of a cloud-fragment based technology will enable the 5G network to solve the larger Internet challenges. While 5G will reduce the network latency, a cloud-fragment (hyperlocal edge cloud) within the telecom infrastructure will reduce the latency associated with various data centres, back-haul and network providers. It will decentralize content (and the consumer demand for content) by deploying its edge servers, closer to the user. This is the technology solution that SugarBox Networks is building for. By bringing the benefit of edge closest to the end user, SugarBox substantially improves latency and QoS for the end user. The patented edge cloud technology can augment the 5G rollout by decongesting the network, ensuring high mobility offload, at the same time augmenting the existing 3G/4G networks will ensure a smoother transition to the latest network technologies. The objective is to create a flexible environment where the edge cloud technology solution will enable the best viewing experiences for the end-user. Thus, bringing a dynamic change for the OTT streaming experience. 

Conclusively, the lens should be that of effective collaboration of the telecom and tech companies to build a better framework for digitisation of services and experiences!

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