India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given the green light to several telecom service providers to begin conducting 5G trials in the country for a six-month period. These firms span multiple nationalities, but exclude Chinese vendors.
In a press announcement DoT said it had given permission to Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and MTNL to conduct trials for use of the 5G technology, as well as run applications powered by 5G.The companies approved to start the 5G trials will work with Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia and state-owned technology company C-Dot. India’s Jio Platforms will additionally be allowed to use homegrown technology.
“The experimental spectrum is being given in various bands which include the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), millimeter wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz) and in Sub-Gigahertz band (700 GHz). TSPs will also be permitted to use their existing spectrum owned by them (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz) for conduct of 5G trials,” said the DoT in the press statement.
The permission letters given by the DoT to each telecom service provider specify that they will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also in addition to urban settings so that the benefit of 5G technology proliferates across the country and is not confined only tourban areas.
“The TSPs are encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G Technology. It will be recalled that International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has also approved the 5Gi technology, which was advocated by India, as it facilitates much larger reach of the 5G towers and Radio networks. The 5Gi technology has been developed by IIT Madras, Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) and IIT Hyderabad,” said the DoT press statement.
5G trial objectives
The objectives of the 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics, evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors, testing of indigenous technology and testing of applications, such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented/ virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring and to test 5G phones and devices.
Last year, then US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, urged India and other US allies to avoid Huawei. There has also been geo-political tension between India and China, which escalated last year with skirmishes at the shared border between the world’s two most populated nations.
Since India amended a rule early last year, making it difficult for Chinese firms to invest in Indian companies, the country has since banned over 200 apps including TikTok, PUBG Mobile and UC Browser because they have an affiliation with China and there are cybersecurity concerns.
India’s decision not include any Chinese vendors in their 5G trials follows similar decisions made by the UK, US and Australia, who have all expressed concerns about Huawei and ZTE because of their ties with the Chinese government.