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High-level panel to meet on early rollout of 5G in India

Livemint:  December 12, 2017

New Delhi: A top panel, formed in September by the department of telecom, will meet on Wednesday to devise strategies for early deployment of 5G services in India, several people familiar with the matter said.

The panel, which has representations from the industry, government and academics, aims to develop a competitive product portfolio for 5G with an objective of targeting 50% of the Indian market and 10% of global market over the next seven years.

Representatives from top internet service providers and telecom service providers, including Bharti Airtel Ltd’s chief executive Gopal Vittal, Reliance Jio’s managing director Sanjay Mashruwala, are part of the panel and are expected to attend the meeting.

The government aims to deploy 5G services for consumers by 2020. The government set up the 22-member committee, chaired by telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, in September and tasked it with evaluating and approving road maps and action plans for the technology rollout.

5G is the next generation of wireless access technology. It not only promises higher data capacity and speeds faster than 10 GB per second but also possesses the capacity to connect billions of devices. According to industry estimates, 5G will also bring down the cost of transmitting packets of data on the network to one-tenth of that on a 4G network. The technology is also expected to trigger progress across usages such as autonomous cars, apart from Internet of Things (IoT).

The move may also provide an opportunity to the government to attempt afresh to sell certain airwaves that are ideally suited for 5G services. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or Trai, in August floated a consultation paper inviting views on the next auction of various spectrum bands, including 3300-3400 MHz and 3400-3600 MHz spectrum bands that are suitable for 5G mobile services. The consultation paper will be followed by an open house discussion.

India has largely played a catch-up game with the world when it comes to rolling out technologies such as 2G, 3G and 4G. The government wants to change that. 5G trials are currently being rolled out across the world. Companies such as Ericsson AB, Orange SA, Verizon Communications, Google and Samsung Electronics have shown interest in or conducted 5G trials.

The panel will focus on creating a research ecosystem for intellectual property rights development, standards development and proof of concepts through research projects, public-private partnership projects, test beds and pilot roll-outs. The government has approved a corpus of Rs500 crore for research and development in 5G, telecom minister Manoj Sinha said in September.

The department of telecommunications has approved a 5G technologies test-bed at IIT Madras, which is expected to be operational in the next six months, Morgan Stanley said in a recent note.

“We will need more such test-beds in order to meet the deadline for the roll-out,” a member of the high-level panel said.

The panel will also work towards creating a regulatory framework, including spectrum assignments and a start-up friendly regulatory environment. “While the current quantity of spectrum is adequate for telecom operators for now, the government will need to offer more spectrum for 5G,” a top executive of a global telecom equipment manufacturer said.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.