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DoT may allow 5G trials for telcos by September

The Department of Telecommunications is expected to provide the spectrum needed by telecom service providers for testing their 5G networks, by September, CNBC-TV18 learns from sources.

5G is the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks, superior to the 4G networks which currently provide connectivity to most cellphones.

The testing was originally scheduled for March, but got delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Telecom operators will need 6 months of testing 5G devices and spectrum before we begin auctions,” said a DoT official who did not want to be named.

“We are looking at providing the companies with spectrum for the testing by September so that they can begin the process,” the official said.

Chinese cos excluded from 5G Trials?

CNBC-TV18 had earlier reported that a DoT committee had recommended banning Chinese telecom equipment companies from participating in the 5G trials and the subsequent auctions. The DoT official confirmed that Chinese companies will not be allowed to participate in the trials and auctions. This means that Indian telecom service providers cannot partner with Chinese telecom equipment makers. The two Chinese players with a strong presence in the telecom equipment segment in India are Huawei and ZTE.

“From the companies that had submitted applications in December 2019, we are considering allowing only Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung to participate in the 5G trials;” said the official.

Bharti Airtel had submitted its application to conduct trials in partnership with Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, and Ericsson.

Vodafone Idea had listed Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei as its partners. Jio mentioned Samsung as its partner but it also submitted an application to use its own 5G gear.

“Banning Huawei and ZTE from 5G will increase our procurement costs and reduce competitiveness in the 5G space. Huawei had started roadshows in India and has a lead amongst most of its peers in the global 5G ecosystem;” said a senior executive from a telecom operator.

Spectrum for testing to be provided for subsidized cost:

The cost of the spectrum to be provided for testing will be much less lower than initially expected. DoT has simplified the testing method and will provide spectrum for demonstration and testing purposes at a nominal charge of Rs 5000 a year. Speaking at a webinar earlier, Kishore Babu the DG at DoT had confirmed that spectrum for testing will be provided through a self-declaration and operators don’t need to go through an elaborate approval process. CNBC TV18

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