Government-backed 5G trials are expected to begin no sooner than the end of the current calendar year or early next year, a newly-constituted committee looking into field trial initiative said. “5G trials may happen towards the end of this year or early next year. Early deployments may happen in the second or third quarter of 2020,” Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur
and chairman of the committee said.
The 5G trials have been held up by policy hurdles with the Department of Telecom (DoT) wireless planning and coordination wing (WPC) averse to allocating airwaves beyond 90 days, which according to industry, would not serve any purpose.
'Make 5G spectrum available at minimum cost for a year'
According to Karandikar, one of the things that the industry needs for carrying out 5G trials is a trial spectrum for a reasonable duration and a minimum cost for at least one year. “Current mechanisms of experimental license by DoT require modifications in terms of scope and duration for enabling telecom service providers and industry to undertake the 5G trial at the network level,” he said.
The committee, helmed by Karandikar and with representation from the academia, industry and the government, was formed on February 25 to advise the government on licensing for carrying out 5G pilots and also on the quantum, size, price and other aspects for offering experimental spectrum.
In 2018, the government had asked telecom companies — Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel
and Reliance Jio — to partner with telecom gear makers such as Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia, and showcase India-specific 5G use cases by early 2019.
The government plans on kickstarting the deployment of 5G networks in the country by 2020.