Eyeing 2020 network launches, India’s operators need 5G spectrum

A high-level 5G panel in India has suggested the local government to announce a 5G spectrum allocation policy by the end of this year, Indian press reported. The panel also recommended earmarking additional airwave bands for supporting 5G technology in the country.

The 5G Forum, which had been set up by the Indian government, also recommended the temporary assignment of 5G frequencies for carriers willing to carry out trials in the coming months.

“Given a six-month active trials period, spectrum license may be provided for 12 months. Further, after the trials are completed, if the operator wishes to convert the trials deployment into a commercial deployment, they may be provided favourable terms to purchase spectrum under the auction regime,” the panel said in its report, which was submitted to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The report also urged the government to promulgate guidelines on regulatory matters for the auction of 5G frequencies by March 2019 to facilitate early 5G deployments in the country.

“In India, 5G deployment strategy faces conflicting considerations. If we go for early adoption, the equipment is likely to be more expensive. On the other hand, early adoption will fast track the country’s embrace of 5G’s benefits and increase opportunities to develop innovative use cases that support Indian needs,” the report said.

It added that the government needs to keep in mind that even after the entry of 5G into Indian networks, 2G, 3G and 4G will continue to remain in use.

The 5G panel also said that the DoT may provide financial support to operators related to deployment – backhauls, 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.

The report also said that that new bands below 4GHz should be opened up for the new technology. It recommended the allocation of 405 megahertz of sub 4GHz spectrum while another 137 megahertz is under consideration requiring further studies. It also suggested millimeter band for the 5G technology.

“The cumulative economic impact of 5G on India can reach $1 trillion by 2035,” the report said. In another section, the report noted that India will require a total investment of nearly $ 100 billion to deploy 5G infrastructure over the next 5-7 years.

“India is looking to position itself as a leader in 5G technology, so we are looking at use cases unique to India,” said telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, who headed the overall 5G task force.

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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