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India, Japan Collaborate to Grow Digital Economy

The 7th Japan-India ICT Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting was recently virtually held for senior representatives from both governments. Other non-governmental stakeholders from industries, research and development, and academia also attended the meeting. Discussions revolved around enhancing cooperation in fields like 5G, Open Radio Access Networks (O-RAN), telecom network security, submarine cable systems, massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output), connected cars, quantum communications, and 6G innovation.

At the event, the two countries recognised the need to nurture cooperation under the India-Japan Digital Partnership to grow the digital economy through joint digital transformation projects in areas like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and other emerging technologies. They also discussed providing opportunities to Indian IT professionals to work with Japanese firms.

According to a government press release, 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of India-Japan Diplomatic relations. Being a key driver of development, ICT provides opportunities for the countries to jointly build a robust digital foundation for the present and future world. The 7th JWG agreed to enhance cooperation in ICT areas under a memorandum of cooperation (MoC).

While underlining the recent developments in the telecom sector, a government official stated that India’s 4G LTE telecom stack has been tested through a private-public collaboration and is available for rollout in the country. 5G federated testbeds have also been set up in eight research institutions in India at an estimated cost of US$35 million. 5G technology has immense potential and could prove to be an effective solution to bridging the digital divide in India. For evolved urban areas, it will help advance and enhance the benefits of digital technologies over a faster connectivity network.

In April, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) invited expressions of interest (EoI) for the 5G Vertical Engagement and Partnership Programme (VEPP), aiming to foster strong collaborative partnerships across the 5G use-case ecosystem stakeholders and address vertical industry needs. The centre also created an inter-ministerial committee comprising representatives from several ministries.

Earlier this month, the Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), a technical arm of DoT, signed a five-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with an Indian product engineering and manufacturing company. The MoU will facilitate registered start-ups, innovators, and MSMEs working in O-RAN to test their products at the company’s existing labs for interoperability among ORAN components from different vendors. Components include the (remote) radio unit (RRU/RU), distributed unit (DU), and central unit (CU). Start-ups can also use the labs for radio conformance, protocol, and interface testing. Facilities will be offered at a subsidised tariff, which will be decided by both the MoU partners, OpenGov Asia reported earlier. The products offered for testing will be certified by TEC.

The testing certification will accelerate research, innovation, and domestic design and manufacturing. India aims to be a front-runner in 5G and ORAN, and this test certification ecosystem is expected to make the country a leading design, testing, and certification hub in Asia.

A recent survey showed that in India this year, the adoption of 5G smartphones could more than triple and account for 40% of sales volume contribution, a massive jump from the recorded 12% last year. The country shipped over ten million 5G smartphones in 2021, growing at 555% from 2020. With an 11% increase, the total smartphone shipments reached 169 million last year.

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