5G trials in India could start in the next 2-3 months: report

  • 5G trials will start in the next 2-3 months
  • The DoT will begin allocating spectrum to network providers soon
  • Commercial applications of 5G, such as education, health care, agriculture, public safety, and FinTech will be tested first

With Reliance Jio and Airtel both pledging to roll out 5G services in India by H2 2021, it is only a matter of time before we see both companies conduct field trials. We can expect to see them get started in 2-3 months time, according to a report by the Economic Times. The DoT (Department of Telecommunication) has reportedly informed the parliamentary committee on IT about the sixteen requests it has received for 5G trials. The committee is all too eager for them to start, and even asked the DoT why the trials didn’t commence earlier. It has also raised concerns about the 5G spectrum not being allocated to service providers until now. 

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5G spectrum allocation should be relatively less convoluted this time around, considering that there are only a handful of providers in the mix. However, network providers can use some of their existing 4G bands for 5G services, thanks to dynamic spectrum sharing. Hence, the spectrum acquisition process should ideally be a lot easier this time. The parliamentary committee issued the following statement with regards to the delayed spectrum allocation process and 5G trials. 

This is in complete contradiction to what the Department had informed the Committee during the examination of Demands for Grants (2020-21) in the month of February 2020 that the Government has allowed all applications for 5G trials in a limited area and for a limited time to test potential 5G India specific use cases. Considering that TSPs have submitted their applications for 5G trials in the month of January 2020, the Committee would like to know the reasons for the delay in issuing spectrum for 5G trials to TSPs.

Applications such as areas like education, health care, agriculture, public safety, and FinTech get top priority when it comes to 5G trials. A 5G use Case lab in the Financial Sector at IDRBT has received the DoT’s green light and should be operational soon. Similarly, the DoT is also working with Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, Ministry of Health, AIIMS, and Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for additional use cases.