India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given the go-ahead for non-commercial 5G trials, to be conducted over a period of six months, ahead of anticipated new mobile spectrum auctions. As reported by the Financial Express, both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) will conduct the trials with Ericsson and Nokia, whereas Reliance Jio will partner Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung whilst also utilising in-house technology. State-backed MTNL will team up with C-DoT for trials but its sister operator BSNL does not intend to participate at this stage.
The government indicated that the six-month 5G trial duration will include two months to procure and set up equipment. Spectrum allocated for the trials will include the mid-band (3.2GHz-3.67GHz), mmWave band (24.25GHz-28.5GHz) and the sub-1GHz band (700MHz) but cellcos will also be permitted to utilise their existing spectrum (800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2500MHz). Participants will be required to conduct trials in rural, semi-urban and urban areas, and will be encouraged to use locally-developed 5G technology alongside major vendor-provided equipment, including tech designed by IT Madras, Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) and IIT Hyderabad. The DoT specified the trials will not be connected to existing live telecoms networks.