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Handsets will not be a constraint in 5G assure makers

Top handset makers have told the government that they will enable all 5G smartphones through software updates within three months, even as government officials asked them to speed up testing and validation processes and set up a monitoring mechanism.

“They have said that within three months, most of the 5G smartphones will be made ready, and the software updates will be shipped. If they can do it sooner, they will do it within two months as well,” said a senior industry executive who was part of the meeting comprising smartphone makers and telecom services providers called by top officials from the department of telecom and ministry of electronics and information technology for prioritising early adoption of 5G in India.

“Some brands have said that testing and validation of devices on 5G networks has to meet their customer satisfaction standards. Therefore it will take a little longer. The government was of the view that a monitoring mechanism should be set,” the executive added.

One of the ministry officials said that the government was in consonance with the explanations provided by the brands but noted that the progress must be monitored and expedited. The meeting was attended by executives from more than a dozen companies.

Smartphone makers also told the government that about 70-80 million devices were already 5G enabled and that 116 mobile handset models already in the market were 5G ready, a second executive said.

He added that telcos informed the government that they were proceeding with their 5G rollouts as scheduled and shared with the telecom department. Telecom services providers Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have launched 5G services in eight and four cities, respectively. Yet, many smartphone users owning 5G-ready phones are unable to use 5G services in these cities.

A sector expert said that testing by device makers on commercial networks was different from testing networks because of real-world challenges such as the right of way, spectrum in use and device compatibility, among other factors. Therefore, ensuring smartphone users get consistent access to 5G networks at all times is a crucial step and can take different amounts of time for different brands.

The government had sought the involvement of smartphone makers to release their firmware upgrades that are needed for 5G devices to latch on to 5G networks. It also sought that telcos should enable handsets to be ready for 5G services on both standalone or SA and non-standalone or NSA networks simultaneously. Jio has launched a beta trial of its 5G services on SA architecture, while Airtel has launched 5G services on NSA architecture. Livemint

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