India allowed telecom operators to conduct trials for fifth-generation networks, taking first steps towards the rollout of the high-speed 5G technology in the world’s second biggest telecom market by users.
Bharti Airtel Ltd., Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., Vodafone Idea Ltd. and MTNL have been allowed to conduct 5G trials for six months, including two months for procuring and setting up equipment, according to a statement by the Department of Telecommunications.
Apart from testing 5G spectrum in India, the objective is to test 5G phones and devices, model tune and evaluate chosen equipment and vendors, and test indigenous technology and applications such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented or virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring, the statement said.
The non-commercial trials will not be connected with the existing networks of operators and the data generated will have to be stored in India.
The experimental spectrum offered includes the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), millimetre wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz) and in sub-gigahertz band (700 GHz). Telecom operators will also be permitted to use their existing spectrum (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz bands) for conducting the trials.
The carriers will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban regions in addition to urban areas so that the benefit of 5G technology is not only confined to cities, the DoT said.
The operators have tied up with network equipment makers such as Ericsson, Nokia Corp., Samsung Telecommunications, and India’s Centre for Development of Telematics. Reliance JioInfocomm Ltd. will also be conducting trials using its indigenous technology.
5G technology is expected to be up to 10 times faster than 4G, offer three times greater spectrum efficiency, and ultra-low latency. It can be applied in sectors such as agriculture, education, health, transport, traffic management, smart cities, smart homes, and multiple applications of IoT.
The DoT said the operators are also encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology, developed by Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology and the Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad. The 5Gi technology facilitates much larger reach of the 5G towers and radio networks and is approved by the International Telecommunications Union, it said.