According to the head of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), R S Sharma, the second term of Narendra Modi-led government may accelerate telecom reforms with a focus on rolling out 5G network.
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.
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. These spectrum (3.5 GHz spectrum) band is expected to be the first band to be globally accepted for 5G deployment.
Sharma further told PTI that he is expecting an accelerated implementation of the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) and its provisions.
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NDCP was approved by the Modi government in 2018 during the government’s penultimate parliamentary term. The policy had aimed for ambitious goals to be achieved by 2022 including provision of broadband for all; creating 4 Mn additional jobs in the digital communications sector; enhancing the contribution of the digital communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP and propelling India to the top 50 nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU.
Sharma also expects Modi government’s action on the telecom regulators’ various recommendations submitted to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT). TRAI had asked for a review of licence fees, spectrum usage charges and levy on the universal service obligation fund in order to promote ease of business.
5G In India
India has not yet conducted any field trials but the Chinese telecommunication company Huawei had been working with Indian telecommunication companies to setup 5G field trials, which were expected to happen in the second half of 2019. However last month, Huawei was reported to have warned that India’s 5G ambitions could suffer a hit if spectrum allocations are not made available soon by the government for trials
Huawei had earlier said that India can potentially become the second largest 5G market in the next 10 years. Commenting on Huawei investment in India, the executive said, “India has a large population and huge telecom demand. Indian government’ push on 5G network will help economic performance.”
One of the barriers to 5G connectivity in India is the infrastructural gap. According to 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. In order to expand mobile and broadband connectivity across the country.
Earlier in 2018, another telecommunication company, Ericsson had installed the first public access 5G test bed at IIT Delhi in 2018, as per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s white paper on ‘Enabling 5G in India’.Function of a test bed is to facilitate transparent, and replicable testing of new technologies.
According to 5G HLF 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. Also, Ericsson estimated that 5G enabled digitalisation revenue potential in India will be above $ 27 Bn by 2026. GSMA Intelligence projected that post the launch of 5G network in 2020, 5G connections in India will grow to almost 70 Mn by 2025, which is equivalent to around 5% of total connections, excluding cellular internet of things (IoT).