The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has permitted telecom service providers (TSPs), including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone Idea, and MTNL, to conduct 5G trials.
As largely anticipated, Chinese tech majors such as Huawei and ZTE have not been allowed to participate in the trials.
An official statement said that the TSPs have tied up with original equipment manufacturers and technology providers — Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance Jio Infocomm will also be conducting trials using its own indigenous technology.
The permissions have been given by the DoT as per the priorities and technology partners identified by TSPs themselves. The experimental spectrum is being given in various bands which include the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), millimeter wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz) and in sub-Gigahertz band (700 GHz).
The TSPs will also be permitted to use their existing spectrum (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz) for conduct of 5G trials.
The duration of the trials is for a period of six months. This includes a time period of two months for procurement and setting up of the equipment.
The permission letters specify that each TSP will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also, in addition to urban settings so that the benefit of 5G technology proliferates across the country and is not confined only to urban areas.
The TSPs are encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G technology. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has also approved the 5Gi technology, which was advocated by India, as it facilitates much larger reach of the 5G towers and radio networks. The 5Gi technology has been developed by the IIT Madras’ Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT), and the IIT Hyderabad.
The Communications Ministry statement said that the objectives of conducting 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics, especially in the Indian context, model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors, testing of indigenous technology, testing of applications, and to test 5G phones and devices.
5G technology is expected to deliver improved user experience in terms of data download rates (expected to be 10 times that of 4G), up to three times greater spectrum efficiency, and ultra-low latency to enable Industry 4.0, it said.
Applications are across a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, education, health, transport, traffic management, smart cities, smart homes, and multiple applications of IoT (Internet of Things).
DoT has specified that the trials will be isolated and not connected with the existing networks of TSPs. Trials will be on non-commercial basis and the data generated during the trials shall be stored in India.
TSPs are also expected to facilitate the testing of the indigenously-developed use cases and equipment as part of the trials. One hundred applications or use cases selected by DoT after conducting the recent hackathon on 5G applications can also be facilitated in these trials, it said.
Commenting on the development, a Nokia spokesperson said: “Nokia India welcomes the government’s decision to conduct trials including rural and semi-urban areas, aligned with the long-term vision of a Digital India.”
“We are confident of our readiness to support our customers in implementing 5G strategy with the advantage of our technology leadership, our experience in serving customers globally, and our initiatives in India including 5G manufacturing in Chennai.”
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Director General S.P. Kochhar said the move it will stimulate local R&D ecosystem to develop innovative applications tailored to commercial needs.
“We welcome the government’s decision to start exhaustive 5G trials in different categories of locations across India. It will stimulate local R&D ecosystem to develop innovative applications tailored to commercial needs.
“It will enable TSPs to validate 5G technologies and use cases such as IoT and Industry 4.0. We hope the Govt. will also look into the industry’s call for revisiting the 5G spectrum pricing,” Kochhar added.