In what could kick off India’s foray into fifth-generation of mobile telephony, or 5G, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is gearing up to hold discussions with key stakeholders in an effort to bring them on the same page for establishing a national 5G framework programme, which aims deployment of the latest technology in the country by 2020, according to sources familiar with the development.
Standards developing organisation Telecommunications Standards Development Society India (TSDSI), and industry-academia body TCOE India, are expected to hold the first meeting with stakeholders including telecom companies, equipment manufacturers, the government and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), next week to have consultations about various factors such as coming up with facilities to experiment and demonstrate applications, or important use cases 5G importance to the Indian market.
Furthermore, the DoT is also planning to soon begin testing of 5G technology, for which it is likely to seek funds from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). The MeitY is allocated a sum in the Union Budget for a fund that is used for research and development activities in the field of IT, technology, and Convergence Communication & Broadband Technology projects. For the year 2017-18, the ministry was allocated only Rs 101 crore under the said fund.
While India is planning to begin the process of standardising the latest wireless technology, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has already proposed key performance requirements for fifth-generation mobile technology. Even though the data speeds for 5G can not be ascertained yet since the technology is yet to be deployed, ITU in February proposed the downlink peak rate for 5G at 20 gigabits (or 20,000 megabits) per second. Peak data rate is the maximum achievable data rate under ideal conditions. Comparatively, the existing fourth generation technology or LTE-Advanced, offers peak rates up to 1 gigabit per second in fixed speeds and 100 megabits per second to mobile users.
However, several Indian telecom companies have already joined hands with equipment makers with an aim to bring 5G in the country. At the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona that was held in February, Reliance Jio partnered with Samsung to work on a project that would look at upgrading the mobile operator’s infrastructure going ahead. Furthermore, India’s largest telecom firm Bharti Airtel, and state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd have also reportedly started working with Nokia Networks to “accelerate the development of a 5G ecosystem”.
According to the GSM Association, 5G would need spectrum in three key frequency ranges for deliver widespread coverage and to support all given use cases — sub-1 GHz, which would be required for widespread coverage across far-flung areas and to support Internet of Things (IoT) services; 1-6 GHz, especially within 3.3-3.8 GHz range that is “expected to form the basis of many initial 5G services” while help operators build capacity; and above 6 GHz, which would support the need for ultra-high broadband speeds.
Last month in Lok Sabha, when Minister of State for Communications Manoj Sinha was asked whether the Centre planned to auction 5G spectrum, he said: “The standardisation of technology for 5G services is in progress at the ITU, Geneva, Switzerland. Further, the Government auctions spectrum without specifying any technology, subject to the condition that the technology deployed by the TSP is the one approved by international organization like ITU or by the DoT. It is for TSPs to deploy the technology (2G, 3G etc) within the spectrum acquired by them which best serves market demands.”
In a recent report, Swedish equipment manufacturer Ericsson noted that it expected operators to rake in an additional $582 billion globally from digitalisation of the economy through 5G technology by 2026. “The largest opportunity for revenues created or enhanced by 5G will be in the manufacturing, and energy and utilities sectors,” Ericsson said.
“While operators may still profit from focusing on one of the steps in the value chain, they could achieve much larger growth if they embrace every step. Using 5G to solve the key challenges in digitalization for industries (such as manufacturing and automotive for example), operators can become more than network developers, addressing additional revenue streams by becoming service enablers or even service creators,” it added.
Downlink peak data rate 20 times faster
* ITU in February proposed the downlink peak rate for 5G at 20 Gbps . Peak data rate is the maximum achievable data rate under ideal conditions. 4G technology or LTE-Advanced, offers peak rates up to 1 Gbps in fixed speeds and 100 megabits per second to mobile users
* 5G would need spectrum in three key ranges: sub-1 GHz, to support IoT; 1-6 GHz that is “expected to form the basis of many initial 5G services” while help operators build capacity; and above 6 GHz, to support the need for ultra-high broadband speeds, according to GSM Association