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India Looking to Launch 6G Tech by 2024

The Minister for Communication, Ashwini Vaishnaw, recently announced that India will indigenously develop 6G technology with the aim to launch it by the end of 2023 or early 2024. He was speaking at an event, ‘New Technology and the Green Economy: Two Trends Shaping a New India?’. It is the fourth in a series of online, agenda-setting webinars organised by two news outlets. The Minister said that the requisite permissions have already been given to scientists and engineers working on the technology.

According to a report by The Indian Express, the Minister claimed that the government will indigenously design and manufacture telecom software and equipment to run 6G networks. The technology will also be exported to other countries. Apart from 6G, the government also plans to launch indigenous 5G technology, with the development of core software for the technology to be completed by the third quarter of next year. The auctions for the 5G spectrum are also likely to happen in the second quarter of 2022, he said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has reportedly started the consultation process for 5G spectrum auctions, and this is expected to be completed by February or March 2022. TRAI has granted an extension to the telcos for 5G trials, and the deadline has been shifted to 31 March 2022. Earlier this year, the Cabinet had approved a set of nine structural and procedural reforms to address the short-term liquidity needs as well as long-term issues of telecom companies. As part of these reforms, the government had given the telcos an option to go for a four-year moratorium on payment of deferred spectrum and adjusted gross revenue dues.

While announcing the reforms in September, the Minister had said that there would be another set of reforms for the telecom sector to sort out long-pending legacy issues. The reforms that the government approved in September have been well received. The industry is adjusting to those reforms. “A lot of stress that was there in the industry is now mitigated due to those reforms. Much more needs to be done. We are already working on another set of reforms which should come in 3-4 months,” he informed.

The report added that as part of the reforms announced in September, apart from the 4-year moratorium, the government had also announced changes such as streamlining of the auction calendar and removal of the spectrum usage charges (SUC) from auctions, which had been a long pending demand of the private telcos. The telecom sector will also be able to receive 100% foreign direct investment through the automatic route, up from the 49% permitted earlier. Further, for all future auctions, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will not ask for bank guarantees to secure instalment payments while the tenure for which the spectrum can be held has been increased to 30 years from 20 years. An additional SUC of 0.5%, which was levied on spectrum sharing, has been removed.

5G smartphone shipments surged in the emerging markets boosted by the launch of affordable smartphone models and growing 5G infrastructure, a recent study showed. Shipments rose to 22.9 million units in the second quarter, 2021 in emerging markets, growing 6.5% from the last quarter. About 26% of the mobile subscriptions in India by 2026-end would be 5G. 4G subscriptions are expected to grow at a CAGR of 3%, going from 680 million in 2020 to 830 million by 2026. Currently, India ranks second in the average data usage in the world. The average data usage in India was 13 GB per month till the year 2019, which increased to 14.6 GB in the year 2020. By 2026, the average data consumption in India is expected to be 40 GB per month.

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