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Govt bats for instant approval for 5G R&D and field trials
TT Correspondent |  |  27 Oct 2018

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government is putting special regime to allow instant approval to companies to undertake fifth-generation (5G) based Research and Development (R&D) activities and field trials, a top official Saturday said.

"We are putting special dispensation for 5G field trials and R&D for immediate approval, and that demonstrates India is not lagging behind," telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said, adding that India would not miss 5G bus.

The government is aggressively focusing on next-generation of technology, and has already created a high-level 5G Forum under the leadership of the US-based Standford University's Professor A Paulraj.

The Department of Telecommunicatons (DoT) has already invited incumbent service providers such as Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) together with vendors such as Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei.

"The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is in advanced stage of discussions with Samsung and with those who have shown interst in 5G trials," the official said, adding that the department has taken inital set of actions for enabling the newer technology.

In terms of fibre and spectrum needs, the government, according to her has already signaled the industry and plans to establish the National Fibre Authority (NFA) and added that the department has received recommendations from the regulator in the 3500 Mhz range, and was also looking at 2.4-2.8Ghz spectrum.

"Actual (spectrum) allocation will happen at the second half of 2019," Sundararajan said, and added that the 5G would be deployed based on the robustness of business case for telcos, and the department, according to her, has already started working in that direction.

"Technology is inclusive and we are working with service providers and hope it should not be confined to urban regions but reaches to those need," the official said.

In the last three years, the government, she said, have doubled the fibre infrastructure, and have both private and public test beds.

"5G arguably represent a paradigm shift in telecom sector, and is going to make maximum impact to farmers and entrepreneurs," Sundararajan added.

The government, in order to roll out 5G-based services, has already partnered with various Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) leaders to set up technology standards and bring use cases relevant to 1.3 billion Indians.

"The significance of 5G for India couldn't be overlooked and it is an integration of systems. 5G will have a massive impact and transforming effect on governance including Smart City and Digital India initiatives," Telecom minister Manoj Sinha said.

Sinha also said that the government is in favour to bring about policy and regulation to facilitate 5G deployment.

The department, in order to boost 5G field trials and use cases, is allocating free spectrum to the telcos so that they could transform their networks to adopt newer technology more easily.

"By 2023, nearly 75% would be video content and by then we hope to have functional 5G infrastructure," the minister added.

Interopability, standards and open APIs are some of the elements that, according to him, should be looked at holistically.

The Centre, in its recently unveiled National Digital Communications Policy 2018, has put emphasis in futuristic technologies such as AI and Internet of Things (IoT).

He said "5G broadband technology will bridge digital literacy and affordability divide. 5G is the future of telecommunications and we are aware of the challenges".

Along with the combined support from stakeholders, Sinha said that

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