India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has authorized local carriers to carry out trials of 5G technology in the country.
In a statement, DoT said that the permits were given to Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone Idea and MTNL, which will carry out these 5G trials in partnerships with vendors including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance Jio Infocomm will also be conducting trials using its own technology.
Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE were not included in this phase of 5G trials.
DoT is awarding experimental spectrum in the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), millimeter-wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz) and in the 700 MHz band for these 5G trials. Mobile operators will also be able to use their existing spectrum in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz bands.
The 5G trials are expected to last for a six-month period, which includes a time period of two months for procurement and setting up of the equipment.
The permission letters specify that each carrier will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also in addition to urban areas.
“The operators are encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G Technology. It will be recalled that International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has also approved the 5Gi technology, which was advocated by India, as it facilitates much larger reach of the 5G towers and Radio networks. The 5Gi technology has been developed by IIT Madras, Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) and IIT Hyderabad,” DoT said.
“The objectives of conducting 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in the Indian context; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors; testing of indigenous technology; testing of applications such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented/virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring and to test 5G phones and devices,” DoT added.
DoT has also specified that the 5G trials will be isolated and not connected with the existing networks of local operators.
DoT is expected to ask the country’s telecoms regulator to lower the minimum price for the auction of 5G airwaves, according to recent press reports.
Local carriers have been insisting that the floor price recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is unaffordable and will seriously affect the launch of commercial 5G services in the country.
According to the reports, DoT will also ask Trai to review the minimum price of the 700 MHz frequency band that has remained unsold in the past two spectrum auctions.
The regulator had previously set the reserve price for 5G spectrum at INR4.92 billion ($66.6 million) per megahertz of spectrum in the 3.3-3.6 GHz bands.
The Cellular Operators Association of India has previously warned that the high reserve price for 5G frequencies would make it difficult for local carrier to take part in the 5G spectrum auction. The reserve prices set by Trai for 5G airwaves is nearly 4-6 times higher than that of the prices in other countries.