India was supposed to conduct its 5G trials back in 2020. However, the plan was delayed because of the global coronavirus outbreak. In February this year, India’s Department of Telecoms (DoT) finally gave the thumbs-up for 5G spectrum trials.
The Department of Telecoms gave the green light on Tuesday to telecommunication businesses to start trials in rural and semi-urban areas to test the application of high-speed 5G internet technology.
In an official press note, the DoT has named equipment makers Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to support Indian telcos in the 5G trials, but did not mention Chinese players such as Huawei and ZTE after a prolonged period of unease between the two countries as well as the danger of cyber attacks.
Amid border woes with China that began in April 2020 and went on for at least 10 months until early February this year, India has decided to limit the roles Chinese tech players have in developing its tech infrastructure, because of national security concerns.
“The DoT approved today permissions to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) for conducting trials for use and applications of 5G technology. The applicant TSPs include Bharti Airtel Ltd, Reliance JioInfocomm Ltd, Vodafone Idea Ltd and MTNL. These TSPs have tied up with original equipment manufacturers and technology providers which are Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance JioInfocomm will conduct trials using its own locally produced technology,” the press note said.
It has been decided that the trials will last for six months – including two months for obtaining and setting up 5G equipment.
“The objectives of conducting 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in India; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors; testing of locally produced technology; testing applications such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented/virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring and more, along with testing 5G phones and devices,” the DoT has said.
For now, the trials will be conducted on a non-commercial basis and whatever data is collected during these tests, will be kept in India.
Last year, US-based tech company VIAVI released a report called “The State of 5G Deployments”. The report noted that high-speed 5G networks have already made inroads in 378 cities across 34 countries: South Korea is leading the pack with 85 5G-enabled cities, then China, US and UK respectively.
For a country that has more than 600 million who are heavily reliant on the internet – mostly below the age of 50 – India is in dire need to upgrade its networks from 4G to 5G, experts have urged time and again. Presently, Indians use 4G internet to power their devices.