No signal from Delhi Metro on plans to provide 5G access underground

Currently, DMRC has invited proposals only to set up 5G cells on metro pillars

July 30, 2023 01:26 am | Updated 01:27 am IST - New Delhi

At present, 4G network is accessible on the underground lines of Delhi Metro, albeit at a slow speed.

At present, 4G network is accessible on the underground lines of Delhi Metro, albeit at a slow speed. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

While the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has proposed the installation of 5G infrastructure on metro pillars, its response to a Right to Information (RTI) plea by The Hindu showed that the transit system has no concrete plans to provide faster internet in its underground sections.

At present, 4G network is accessible on the underground metro lines, albeit at a slow speed, as it is overwhelmed by a large number of passengers consuming data from 4G airwaves.

“The high density of users and the rapid movement of metro trains can cause substantial signal interference,” said Rohit Paranjpe, co-founder and CEO of data company Sugarbox. The tech startup has worked with Chennai Metro by installing equipment that facilitates faster download of content from certain over-the-top (OTT) apps on smartphones.

“With many users sharing the [4G] network in a confined space, data speeds can drop, leading to poor performance,” Mr. Paranjpe added.

Boasting a larger bandwidth, 5G network offers a solution to the Delhi Metro’s problem. According to senior DMRC official, a request for proposal was floated in May for setting up 5G infrastructure and the corporation started accepting tenders from July 19, with further details awaited.

However, a review of the proposal by The Hindu showed that it pertains to installing 5G cells — small wireless transmitters that provide network coverage in a limited range — only on metro pillars.

As a result, 5G network will be accessible to overground metro passengers and even people on the roads, but not to underground travellers.

India claims to have the fastest 5G rollout in the world — with the government even recently marking the installation of 2,00,000 5G transmitters — and the need for this technology may grow as the metro ridership increases.

However, the DMRC is yet to confirm a timeline by which it will be able to provide 5G access in its underground routes.

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