Govt to prepare 2020 5G roadmap as cellcos, vendors gear up for next-gen

27 Sep 2017

The Indian government has announced plans to establish a dedicated 5G committee to develop a roadmap for the rollout of the technology by 2020, the Economic Times writes. The group, dubbed the ‘High Level Forum on 5G India 2020’ will comprise senior officials from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), as well as industry stakeholders and academics. The committee will initially have access to funds totalling INR5 billion (USD76 million) to bankroll research and development related to 5G. The government is hoping to use the technology to facilitate the provision of 10Gbps speeds in urban areas and 1Gbps connections in rural locations. Commenting on the move, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha explained: ‘We missed the opportunity to participate when the standards were being set for 3G and 4G, but don’t want to miss the 5G opportunity. Now when the standards are being set for 5G across the world, India will also participate in the process.’ The primary goals of the forum, according to the official, are to achieve early deployment of 5G in India and a globally competitive product development and manufacturing ecosystem targeting 50% of the Indian market and 10% of the global market over [the] next five to seven years.

In related developments, Bharti Airtel announced that it has deployed Massive MIMO technology on its networks in Kolkata and Bengaluru. The upgrade will act as a stepping stone to 5G, and will be expanded to other areas of the country soon. Similarly, rival wireless provider Idea Cellular confirmed that it has conducted trials of the same upgrade. Idea added that it has so far rolled out 64,000 LTE sites, and plans to increase that number to 100,000 shortly. Finally, Chinese vendor ZTE is working on advanced pre-5G technologies in partnership with three of India’s largest wireless providers, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio).