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India aims to be global leader in affordable 6G technology

In the recently concluded Indian Mobile Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would play a leading role in 6G across the globe. Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, in an email-cum-telephonic interview with Surajeet Das Gupta, talks about the road map. Edited excerpts: What is the difference in the countries’ approach to 6G from what it was to 5G on standard setting? In 5G, we were just observers and lost the bus. This time, in 6G how do we plan to play a leading role in standard setting?

As technology developers, our virtualised 4G and 5G stack is ready. It is being deployed. Complex hi-tech telecom equipment is now exported to more than 70 countries.

On standards, India played a pivotal role in crafting 5Gi and its integration with 3GPP 5G standards. These experiences have equipped us with stronger capabilities to shape and contribute to 6G standards and intellectual property rights (IPRs). Recently, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) adopted Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s “Bharat 6G vision”. As part of our larger strategy, Bharat is hosting the World Telecommunications Standardisation Assembly next year, where the technology agenda of the ITU for the next four years will be decided. So, the approach is to lead the world in telecom technology.

So what is India aiming at? To play a more active role in standard setting in the 3GPPP (global forum for setting the 6G standards), India requires to have its own patents on 6G. In 5G it was mostly with Europe and China. So how is India prepared on that front?
We are aiming at becoming the global leader not only in 6G technology but in affordable 6G technology too — something we can export everywhere.

In telecom, a new generation of technology builds upon existing ones. Patents form a base and decide the course of technology development. India has over 230 patents. Our target is to have 10 per cent of all 6G patents by 2030.

Is India encouraging foreign telcos like Nokia to apply for patents here? A paper by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has been floated for easing patents for global companies.

The Centre for Development of Telematics has been designated nodal agency for IPR (intellectual property rights) management and facilitating Indian or Bhartiya companies. All stakeholders will work in harmony. We have created teams having government, industry, academia, testing industry, skilling and educational institutions for harmonious development.

How many committees are working on setting Indian standards? And what is the process of ensuring 6G development?
Setting standards for India is a collaborative and consultative effort that extends beyond committees, and involves companies and academia. Organisational members of the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, an autonomous body, contribute to technical specifications developed by 3GPP and the ITU. Government bodies such as the Department of Telecommunications, Telecommunication Engineering Centre, and Wireless Planning and Coordination collaborate with academia and industry to contribute to the ITU’s vision, requirements, and specifications.

In setting standards, is there any specific area or suggestion that India will push for in 6G?
As we look forward to 6G, India’s strategic focus will prioritise achieving “ubiquitous connectivity” and comprehensive coverage as paramount objectives to bridge the digital divide. Key technical areas of emphasis include the seamless transition from 5G to 6G, enhancements in fixed wireless access, integrated access and backhaul, and developing a new air interface for 6G. This encompasses large-scale MIMO technology, with a strong emphasis on fostering indigenous innovation and development. Business Standard

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