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Indian Department of Telecommunications Approves 5G trials

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is allowing telecommunication service providers (TSPs) to conduct trials for the use and applications of 5G technology for six months. The six-month trial period includes a two-month period for procurement and setting up of the equipment, according to a press release.

The TSPs are expected to facilitate the testing of indigenously developed use cases and equipment as part of the trials. The Department will also select around 100 applications or use cases to be facilitated in these trials.

The experimental spectrum will be provided in various bands, including the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), the millimetre-wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz), and in the Sub-Gigahertz band (700 GHz). Additionally, TSPs will also be permitted to use their own existing spectrum (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 2500 MHz) for the trials.

In addition to urban areas, each TSP will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban regions so 5G technology proliferates across the country and is not confined to urban areas alone, the release noted. The objective of conducting trials is to include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics in the Indian context as well as 5G phones and devices. It also aims to model tuning and evaluate chosen equipment and vendors, and test indigenous technology and applications like telemedicine, tele-education, augmented or virtual reality, and drone-based agricultural monitoring.

Further, TSPs are encouraged to conduct trials using other 5G technology besides the known 5G technology. Notably, 5G technology was developed by the Indian Institute of Madras (IIT-Madras), the Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT), and IIT-Hyderabad. It has been approved by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as it facilitates a much larger reach of 5G towers and radio networks.

The government expects 5G technology to deliver improved user experience in terms of data download rates (10 times that of 4G), up to three times greater spectrum efficiency, and ultra-low latency to enable the Internet of Things (IoT).

The TSPs that have applied for permission include Bharti Airtel, MTNL, Reliance Jio Infocomm, and Vodafone Idea. For the trials, the TSPs are collaborating with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and technology providers like C-DOT, Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung, besides Jio, which will also be conducting trials using its own indigenous technology.

Permissions given are as per priorities and technology partners identified by TSPs themselves. DoT has specified that the trials will be non-commercial and are to be conducted in isolation without connection to the TSPs’ existing networks.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) welcomed the go-ahead for the 5G trials. “It will stimulate [the] local research and development ecosystem to develop innovative applications tailored to commercial needs. It will enable TSPs to validate 5G technologies and use cases such as IoT and Industry 4.0. We hope the government will also look into the industry’s call for revisiting the 5G spectrum pricing,” the Director-General of COAI noted.

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