5G Field Trials Likely By Year-End, Deployments By Mid-2020

Government-backed fifth-generation or 5G technology trials are expected to commence not earlier than the end of the current calendar year or early next year, according to a recently-constituted committee looking into field trial initiative.

“5G trials may happen towards the end of this year or early next year. Early deployments may happen in the second or third quarter of 2020,” Abhay Karandikar, director, IIT Kanpur and chairman of the recently set up committee to look into SG spectrum for trials told ETT.

The much-anticipated 5G field trials have hit the policy roadblock with the department of telecom (DoT) wireless planning and coordination wing (WPC) averse to allocating airwaves beyond 90 days, which according to industry, would not serve any purpose.

Karandikar, pointing out a current challenge, said that the industry needs to get trial spectrum for a reasonable duration or for at least one year with a minimum cost to telecom carriers for carrying out 5G trials.

“Current mechanisms of experimental license by DoT require modifications in terms of scope and duration for enabling telecom service providers and industry to undertake the 5G trial at the network level,” he said.

On February 25, the department has formed a committee headed by Karandikar with representation from the academia, industry and the government, to make recommendations related to licensing for carrying out 5G pilots, and also asked for the quantum, size, price and other aspects for offering experimental spectrum.

Earlier in 2018, the government has asked telecom service providers— Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio— to partner with telecom gear makers such as Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia, and showcase India-specific 5G use cases by early 2019.

The department, however, has so far excluded Chinese ZTE from awarding intent letter to participate in trials. Shenzhen-based Huawei said it was still awaiting clarity from the government to conduct 5G trials and could deploy 5G network within the three week’s time after the allocation of trial radiowaves.

Karandikar, one of the sector regulator’s advisors is also a member of the 5G high-level forum which under the noted scientist AJ Paulraj is working on to prepare a roadmap for 5G rollout in the country in tandem with some of the matured markets worldwide

The Narendra Modi government aims to kickstart the deployment of ultra-high speed 5G networks in the country by 2020.

In September 2018, the forum has submitted its recommendations to the government which has constituted several implementation-level committees or working groups to chalk out a wider strategy to absorb suggestions.―Business Telegraph

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