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India Government Expects to Have 5G Services by 2022-End

Spectrum auctions will be conducted very soon, and next-generation 5G services are expected to commence before the end of the year, according to the Minister of State for Communications, Devusinh Chauhan. He noted that four companies have been allotted spectrum frequencies to conduct trials, which are expected to be completed soon.

As per a news report, the telecom regulator the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India TRAI has been asked to give its recommendations related to the upcoming auction. The Minister also added that state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will begin its 4G services this year. He claimed that a “great revolution” has taken place in the telecom sector over the last seven years and that data consumption has soared while tariffs are at the lowest. Telecom service providers (TSPs) are conducting 5G trials in Delhi, Mumbai, Jamnagar, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Gurgaon, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Pune, and Varanasi, including in urban, semi-urban, and rural areas. It is the prerogative of TSPs to launch 5G services in different cities as per their business/network plans, a government press release has stated.

There is a robust public grievance mechanism in place and complaints pending for over 48 hours are escalated to senior officials, Chauhan noted. The government has taken a slew of measures to revive telecom PSUs BSNL and its subsidiary, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL). The quality of BSNL services will also improve with the launch of the state-owned corporation’s 4G services. He further outlined the reforms undertaken by the government in the telecom sector and cites measures like re-defining Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR), which is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Recently, according to reports, the telecom industry proposed to the government that revenue from payments banks, rental income, and e-commerce operations be excluded from calculations of AGR.

The Communication Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, explained that there was no decline in the number of mobile subscribers in the country in the year 2020-21. As per the monthly Telecom Subscription Data released by TRAI, the number of mobile subscribers in India increased from 1,157.75 million in March 2020 to 1,180.96 million in March 2021. To improve the Quality of Service (QoS), he said drive tests and Radio Frequency (RF) optimisation measures are carried out regularly by mobile service providers.

Moreover, to provide state-of-the-art and prompt services to mobile customers, service providers optimally manage the increasing traffic by adding more sites, providing fibre backhauls, using small cells, and undertaking network optimisation, he noted. TRAI has issued guidelines and set various parameters and benchmarks to monitor QoS. These parameters are assessed for the entire license service area on a quarterly basis. To ensure QoS standards are met and to protect the interests of the consumers, TRAI has prescribed a system of financial disincentives for non-compliance with the benchmarks.

A report from last year predicted that 5G will represent around 26% of mobile subscriptions in India at the end of 2026 and is estimated at 330 million subscriptions. As per a more recent survey, India was the third-largest 5G smartphone market globally with 7% of worldwide 5G shipments, shipping 10 million units at an ASP (average selling point) of $401 in the third quarter of 2021. From January-September 2021, 17 million 5G smartphones were shipped to India and the number was expected to reach 30 million for the full year. Industry experts expect 5G smartphone sales to increase three times this year.

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