India’s Minister of State for Communications, Sanjay Dhotre has reportedly said that there is a need for robust industry investment in 5G innovation, startups and creation of 5G products that have the potential to create India-focused patents.
“The government is doing its part to improve ease of doing business in the telecom sector and to ensure fair competition in the private sector. But the states at their level also need to make 5G a priority since this will be the infrastructure of the future,” he added.
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.
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), a trade body which represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, has predicted India to 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.
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 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.
TRAI’s head R S Sharma was also recently reported to be expecting the second time elected Modi government to accelerate telecom reforms with a focus on rolling out 5G network.
The GSMA 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.
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.
One of the barriers to 5G connectivity in India is the infrastructural gap. According to the National Digital Communications Policy 2018, India currently has approximately 1.5 Mn kilometres of optical fibre cable (OFC), and less than one-fourth of the towers are fibre-connected.
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.