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Indian Government Says 5G Network Development in Final Stages

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5G network development in India is in the final stages according to the Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw. Addressing the India Telecom 2022 business expo, the Minister stated that the country has developed indigenous 4G core and radio networks and is participating in the development of 6G standards. The event was organised by the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC), under the Department of Commerce’s Market Access Initiative Scheme (MAI).

The announcement comes after the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, informed this year’s Union Budget session that the required spectrum auctions would soon be conducted by telecom operators to facilitate the rollout of 5G services in 2022. She also announced that the government is planning to launch a scheme for design-led manufacturing that will help to build a stronger ecosystem for 5G as part of the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme. 5G technology has immense potential and could prove to be the best option to bridge 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.

To enable affordable broadband and mobile service proliferation in rural and remote areas, 5% of annual collections under the Universal Service Obligation Fund will be allocated, the Finance Minister had said. The contracts for laying optical fibre in all villages, including remote areas, will be awarded under the Bharatnet project in 2022-23, which is expected to be completed in 2025. The move will provide all village residents access to e-services, communication facilities, and digital resources on par with urban areas.

The rollout of 5G is expected to take place by the end of this year as the spectrum auction process will happen by July or August and services will then be rolled out subsequently, the Technology Minister told reporters. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is already in talks with the telecommunication industry for the rollout of 5G, and a report will be released on the same by March. Last year, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) stated that a few major cities in the country are expected to get 5G networks by the end of 2022. 13 metro cities will first get to experience 5G services this year, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Gurugram, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Jamnagar, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, and Gandhinagar.

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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