by Elton Gomes
In an announcement that spelled absolute delight for mobile Internet users, the Indian government announced that the super-fast 5G service could be rolled out by 2020. However, experts are of the opinion that 5G would initially remain a premium service and might not be available to the mass market.
The telecom industry’s 5G committee has said that roughly 6,000 megahertz of spectrum can be made available without any delay. The committee has submitted its recommendation to the government. If accepted, the dissemination of 5G services will be India’s largest spectrum allocation for a service.
Telecom minister Manoj Sinha said: “We were late in launching 3G and 4G services in India. But, we would not be left behind in launch of 5G technology. We will be at par with global industry.” In May 2018, the government expressed confidence over India’s transition to 5G. “We expect that by June we will have the contours of the [5G] roadmap ready. Thereafter, we are also going to be working on seeing the initial deployment cases,” Aruna Sundararajan, secretary of the Department of Telecom said while speaking at the 5G international conference in Mumbai.
However, industry players seemed slightly unsure of where the investment for the 5G infrastructure would come from. The frontrunner in the 4G market in India, Jio Infocomm said that India is not prepared for 5G. “Today, we are not ready with 5G because we are not ready with artificial intelligence [AI] and autonomous machinery in the true sense,” Reliance Jio’s MD, Sanjay Mashruwala, said during a discussion. Mashruwala further explained that the presence of 5G services depends on the how evolved augmented reality (AR), Internet of Things, and AI are in India.
The state of 5G in India
Multiple stakeholders have varying opinions about whether India is prepared for 5G or not. In September 2017, the government had set up a high-level panel to assess and approve the roadmap to the introduction of 5G in India by 2020. The Centre developed a support fund containing approximately Rs 500 crore to facilitate research and development for 5G. India’s Telecom minister Manoj Sinha claimed that under 5G, the government aims to deliver internet at about 10 gigabytes per second in urban areas and 1 gigabyte in rural areas.
In February 2018, Airtel and Huawei conducted the first 5G trial in India. Abhay Savargaonkar, Director of Networks at Bharti Airtel, stated that the test was a small but important step in India’s journey towards next generation 5G mobile networks. Savargaonkar told the Economic Times: “The promise of 5G is endless; it will be a game changer, and it will change the way we live, work and engage.” He added, “We look forward to working closely with our partners for developing a robust 5G ecosystem in India.”
The government’s potential deadline of 2020 seems like a plausible one, given that 5G networks might be seen in the US by the end of 2018. With clear regulation policies in place, India might just join the US soon.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius