Indian government wants commercial 5G by 2020

Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel and vendor Huawei have conducted what the companies claim to be India’s first 5G network trial achieving a data speed of more than 3 Gbps. The trial was conducted at Airtel’s network experience center in Gurgaon.

“This is a small but a very significant step in our journey towards 5G,” Bharti Airtel Director of Network Abhay Savargaonkar said. “The promise of 5G is endless. It will be a game changer and will change the way we live, work, and engage. We are moving quickly to begin collaboration towards 5G interoperability and development testing based on the 3GPP R15 standards.”

Bharti Airtel highlighted that the 5G trial was the highest measured throughput for a mobile network in 3.5 GHz band with 100 megahertz bandwidth and end-to-end network latency of approximately 1 millisecond.

The set-up included a 5G radio access network operating in 3.5 GHz spectrum, with a 5G core and a router able to perform network slicing, which allows many different virtual network services to be offered over the same physical infrastructure.

Earlier this year, the government of India had confirmed plans to launch commercial 5G services in 2020. To that aim, the government has allocated 5 billion Indian rupees ($77 million) to 5G development. Part of the funds will go toward a research project involving around 200 researchers, students and teachers from the five Indian IT institutions.

As part of the research, the Indian authorities announced plans to set up a 5G testbed to support operators and start-ups with the development of 5G products and solutions. Technology inistitutes at Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kanpur will work alongside the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore on this 5G testbed.

In November last year, Ericsson and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) had signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly roll out a ‘5G for India’ program. Under this initiative, the Swedish vendor will set up a center of excellence with a 5G testbed and incubation center at IIT Delhi and use this facility to drive the development of the country’s 5G ecosystem.

In addition to hosting the center of excellence, IIT Delhi will conduct research and development to explore how some of the country’s challenges can be addressed with mobile technologies.

India’s Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan recently said that the government was working to harmonize spectrum for the future auction of spectrum for the provision of 5G services.

The Department of Telecom has started harmonizing spectrum in both 3500MHz 26GHz bands along with E and V bands, she said. The Indian government has already harmonized spectrum in  the 700MHz band which can be used for 5G services.

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