Centre to address lack of uniformity in 5G coverage in urban areas
The Centre is set to call the two telecom service providers (TSPs) — Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel — soon to discuss the lack of uniformity in 5G coverage in urban areas. At the same meeting, the government is also set to take stock of the nationwide 5G roll out in the coming weeks.
Mean levels of 5G connectivity have risen across cities where the service has been launched by Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. But the government wants to discuss the wide gap in connectivity in many urban areas, officials said.
“Regular updates from TSPs have continued, but a meeting will be called to see how to solve the issue of 5G coverage varying in many urban pockets. This issue of different signal densities may be discussed next week,” a senior Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) official said.
In February, TRAI had asked telecom operators to give it a clear roadmap on addressing connectivity issues related to 5G. Initial reports showed widespread problems with call drops and poor audio connectivity from 5G users across circles.
The upcoming meeting will also see discussions on the quality of service (QoS) norms for 5G, which are currently in the making, the official added.
TRAI monitors performance of various services provided by TSPs by collecting a performance-monitoring report (PMR) on a quarterly basis. TRAI also conducts audits to assess the performance of TSPs in respect of the prescribed QoS benchmark.
“We continue to engage with the TSPs on the overall state of 5G roll out. In terms of 5G infrastructure deployment, we are at a critical stage. We want to identify from the telcos if the government can extend any policy assistance,” another official said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has also planned to launch an independent QoS test for 5G, officials had told Business Standard.
The first test may be akin to the periodic drive tests conducted by TRAI nationwide to assess the network quality provided by TSPs for voice and data services. Even as telecom operators submit PMRs to TRAI regularly, the regulator also undertakes audit and assessment of service quality through independent agencies.
TSPs ask for more time
However, the TSPs asked for more time to iron out connectivity issues, stating that 5G infrastructure is being established at a quick pace across the country.
Only 16 per cent of mobile subscribers, who switched to 5G, have indicated an improvement in call connection and drop issues, a report by online survey firm LocalCircles, conducted in January, had said. It gathered 42,000 responses from citizens located in 338 districts. The telcos have said network speeds and capacity would improve once optical fibres come into play.
Immunity from electromagnetic interference, small size, and virtually unlimited bandwidth potential are among the many reasons why fibres are preferred for 5G service.
The traffic that is expected to be generated (that is, data consumed by people) after most 5G networks reach optimal capacity is much higher than earlier. Copper wires can’t carry that much data except over short distances.
Only 37 per cent or 884,000 of India’s 2.38 million total base transceiver stations (BTS) are fiberised, the process to provide 5G through optical fibres.
A BTS is a fixed radio transceiver in a mobile network, usually in the form of a tower. However, often new 5G radios are put up on an existing tower infrastructure to facilitate wireless communication between subscriber devices and telecom operator networks.
On March 29, the government told Parliament that as many as 481 districts have 5G infrastructure. Business Standard
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