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US FCC Chairman Cautions India, Says 5G Auction Can Impact National Security

US FCC Chairman Cautions India, Says 5G Auction Can Impact National Security

Ajit Pai said that 5G will impact sectors such as military, core industries, and more

5G network is the latest iteration of yet-to-be-launched cellular technology

India has also been debating the role of Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei in its 5G trials

Speaking at the US-India Business Council, the Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that the country should remember that decisions pertaining to 5G security can have wide-ranging implications.

Ajit Pai said that the use of 5G will impact critical sectors such as military, industries, country infrastructure and more. “The procurement and deployment decisions made now will have a generational impact on the country’s security, economy and society,” he added.

The FCC chairman also stressed on the importance of 5G in potentially deepening the reach of internet and enable the delivery of services such as telemedicine, precision agriculture, and industrial IoT, to remote areas where such access is still a dream.

5G network is the latest iteration of yet-to-be-launched cellular technology that will provide seamless coverage, high data rate, low latency, and highly reliable communications.

FCC has recently proposed to restrict the use of its broadband funding for purchasing equipment or services from a company that might pose a security threat to the integrity of United States communications networks. FCC had also denied China Mobile USA’s application to provide international telecommunications services in America, citing national threat.

“When it comes to 5G, we cannot afford to make risky choices and just hope for the best. We must see clearly the threats to the security of our networks and act to address them. And the more that allies like the US and India can work together and make security decisions based on shared principles, the safer that our 5G networks will be,” said Pai.

India too has also been debating the role of Chinese telecommunications manufacturer Huawei in its 5G deployment. Indian Telecom secretary has recently said in a press statement that the Indian government will soon take a calibrated decision on allowing Huawei for carrying out 5G development in the country, without compromising on national security.

A recent GSMA intelligence report has noted that the telecom companies Bharti Airtel and Huawei have successfully conducted India’s first 5G network trial under a test setup at Airtel’s network experience centre in Manesar, Gurgaon.

 Commenting on Huawei investment in India, a company executive had earlier said, “India market is challenging and unique, but it is very important to market for Huawei. India has a large population and huge telecom demand. Indian government’ push on 5G network will help economic performance.”

Further, Pai noted that millions of Indians and Americans still live in rural areas and it is very improbable that the private sector alone can build the complete broadband network.  He also commended Indian government for its ambitious goal to achieve universal internet access by 2020 and fixed broadband access to 50% of households by 2022.

5G Network In India

Telecom companies are awaiting the Indian government’s approval on spectrum allotment. Spectrum allocation in India is being done through auction process and the government is yet to auction the spectrum 3.3K – 3.6K MHz bands. The spectrum band (3.5 GHz spectrum) is expected to be the first band to be globally accepted for 5G deployment.

According to Global System for Mobile Communications(GSMA), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has given its recommendations on 5G spectrum prices, and Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has planned spectrum auctions for the second half of 2019.

The global trade body has further predicted that India will have 88 Mn 5G connections by 2025, which is around 7% of the country’s total telecom connections.

“This will leave India trailing regional peers such as China, which is set to see almost 30% of its total connections base on 5G by 2025, making it by some way the largest 5G market in the world,” GSMA intelligence report noted.

Further, multiple telecom companies  such as Vodafone, Samsung, Jio, and the government-owned BSNL, are said to be in talks for conducting 5G trials soon.

According to 5G High Level Forum report, 5G network is expected to be launched in India by 2020 and is predicted to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 Tn in India by 2035.