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No need for 5G trials in India to test the technology

Telecom gear maker Nokia, which provides equipment for leading Indian telcos, says there is no need for 5G trials in India to test the technology, as it is now well established and in operation in many parts of the world. According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association, over 96 operators have launched commercial retail 5G services and 397 operators are investing in 5G networks.

Amit Marwah, head of marketing and corporate affairs at Nokia India, said: “There is no need for 5G trials to test the technology. It would have made sense earlier when 5G was being introduced globally. But now it is an established technology. Fortunately, India is using the same spectrum band of 3.5 GHz as are countries like the US, those in Europe and others.”

Marwah asserts that instead, the trials should focus on testing used cases of 5G technology that are specific to India, such as in agriculture and health care. “The current trials should be used to establish India-specific use cases which should be ready before 5G networks roll out,” he says. These would be the new areas of revenue for operators.

Nokia’s stance is markedly different from the leading telecom company, Reliance Jio.

It has written to the department of telecommunications, requesting for 5G spectrum in 3500 MHz as well as millimetre bands, so that it can test its home-grown 5G technology in cities like Mumbai and Delhi and be ready to offer it in the global market.

The permission for 5G trials has been delayed for over a year. With growing border tensions between India and China, telecom players like Bharti Airtel and Jio put in additional applications in August this year in cities where they had earlier tied up with Chinese companies. This was primarily because they feared that the government might not allow Chinese players in the space.

But the government has now made it clear it had no proposal to disallow Chinese gear makers like Huawei. Marwah says Nokia already manufactures 5G radios in its factory in Chennai. 5G radios also run on the Open Radio Access Network Oran (O-RAN) — the next generation of network technology in which Nokia will be a significant player.

The 5G radios manufactured at Nokia’s Chennai factory are being exported to the US, Asian, and European markets. More than half of the factory’s revenues of over Rs 3,000 crore comes from abroad.

Surajeet Das Gupta, Business Standard

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