Indian operators Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have received a six-month extension from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to conduct 5G trials, according to local press reports.
With this extension, the carriers will be able to carry out 5G trials until May next year. Initially, telcos had been authorized to test 5G technology until 26 November.
In May, the DoT had awarded 5G trial spectrum for six months in the 700 Mhz, 3.5 Ghz and 26 Ghz bands, paving the way for local carriers to partner and develop 5G use cases
Jio is currently testing its own indigenously developed 5G RAN and Core technologies, while Airtel and Vodafone Idea have partnered with Nokia and Ericsson to deploy trial networks in various cities.
In related news, Airtel has launched 5G trials in Bengaluru using spectrum in 3.5 GHz band. The telco has already conducted 5G trials in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Gurugram, and Bhaipur Bramanan, a village on the outskirts of Delhi.
According to the report, Airtel plans to pilot several use cases in Bengaluru in partnership with a number of tech companies. During the trial phase, Airtel aims to test solutions for smart factory, smart healthcare, quality inspection, digital twin, connected frontline workforce, and AR/VR. The tests will be carried out in partnership with Accenture, AWS, Cisco, Ericsson, Google Cloud, Nokia, TCS, Apollo Hospitals, Flipkart and several manufacturing companies.
Last week, the Indian government said that it expected to award frequencies for the provision of 5G services in April or May 2022.
The country’s Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which looks at the structure of auctions, is undergoing consultations on the matter.
According to previous reports, India plans to award bands such as 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz and 3,300-3,600 MHz bands. Through the spectrum auction, operators will be also able to bid for spectrum in the millimeter-wave band.
The most recent auction took place this past March and raked in winning bids of more than INR778 billion ($10.5 billion) for 855.6 megahertz of spectrum.
While bids were received for 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands, no bids were made for spectrum in the 700 MHz band due to the high reserve price for this frequency band.