Govt. gives TSPs nod for 5G trials; Chinese tech giants left out

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TSPs tied up with OEMs Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, C-DOT.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Tuesday gave permission to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to conduct trials for the use and application of 5G technology.

This formally leaves out Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE from the 5G race in India.

“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,” a statement from the Ministry of Communications said. In addition, Reliance JioInfocomm Ltd. will also be conducting trials using its own indigenous technology.

The duration of the trials is for six months, which includes a time period of two months for the procurement and setting up of the equipment. “The permissions have been given by DoT as per the priorities and technology partners identified by TSPs themselves,” it stated.

Each TSP will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also in addition to urban settings so that the benefit of 5G technology proliferates across the country and is not confined only to urban areas, the statement said.

Stating that TSPs are encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G technology, the statement said the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has also approved the 5Gi technology, which was advocated by India, as it facilitates much larger reach of the 5G towers and radio networks. The 5Gi technology has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M), Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) and IIT Hyderabad.

According to the Ministry, the objectives of conducting the 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics in the Indian context, model tuning and the evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors, testing of indigenous technology, testing of applications such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented, virtual reality and drone-based agricultural monitoring, and to test 5G phones and devices.

With 5G technology data, download rates are expected to be 10 times that of 4G while giving up to three times greater spectrum efficiency. The trials will be on a non-commercial basis and the data generated during the trials will be stored in India, as per the statement.

In addition to the experimental spectrum being given in various bands, TSPs are also be permitted to use their existing spectrum for conducting the trials, the statement added.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), in a statement, welcomed the go-ahead for the 5G trials. “It will stimulate local Research and Development [R&D] ecosystem to develop innovative applications tailored to commercial needs. It will enable TSPs to validate 5G technologies and use cases such as IoT and Industry 4.0. We hope the government will also look into the industry’s call for revisiting the 5G spectrum pricing,” Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar, Director-General, COAI, said.

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