BSNL recently signed a 5G deal with U.S. networking firm Cisco

India’s state-run telecom operator BSNL has signed an agreement with Japanese carriers Softbank and NTT Communications to roll out 5G and internet of things technology in India, Indian press reported.

The Economic Times quoted Anupam Shrivastava, BSNL chairman and managing director, as saying that under the agreements with the two carriers, BSNL would explore solutions for smart cities. Under the agreement with Softbank, BSNL will look at collaborating with the Japanese firm for its satellite constellation, which will have around 900 satellites to provide high-speed internet services across the globe.

Earlier this month, BSNL signed an agreement with Cisco to develop 5G use cases and showcase 5G telecom networks’ capabilities and utility in various public services. Cisco said it will make investments as part of the second phase of its “country digital acceleration” program in India. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. networking firm will set up a dedicated location for BSNL to showcase possibilities of 5G use cases to solve problems faced by citizens in areas like healthcare, agriculture and education. For this purpose, Cisco will use technologies including artificial intelligence, IoT and surveillance.

India’s Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan recently said that the auction of spectrum for 5G services is likely to happen in the second half of 2019. The country’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said it expects local carriers to have at least one year to carry out 5G trials before the government awards 5G frequencies. The authorities said the DoT will give experimental licenses for telcos to develop 5G testbeds.

In August, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) proposed guidelines for the next round of airwaves sale that included 5G spectrum in the 3300-3600 MHz bands, besides the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2,500 MHz range.

The regulator proposed that a total of 275 MHz in the 3300-3600 MHz frequency range be auctioned. It said that a further 25 MHz spectrum (3400-3425 MHz), which is currently being used by the Indian Space Research Organisation, should be allowed for 5G services after due negotiations with the space body to free up the spectrum.

A high-level 5G panel in India recently suggested that the local government to promulgate guidelines on regulatory matters for the auction of 5G frequencies by March 2019 to facilitate early 5G deployments in the country. The 5G panel also said that the DoT may provide financial support to operators related to deployment – backhaul, site acquisition, civil works and related operational costs. It added that additional financial support may be offered to internet service providers, technology companies, and local governments to participate in the future 5G trials.

In March this year, Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel and vendor Huawei had conducted what the companies claimed 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.

The trial 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.

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