5G remains Talk of the Town but Infrastructure a Big Challenge

5GGovernment, all telecom players and infrastructure providers are all gung-ho about next-generation technology 5G which will see light of the day in India by the end of 2022. But the infrastructure for 5G in the country remains a challenge.

To begin with, telecom regulator TRAI plans to issue a consultation paper on non-discriminatory and mandatory deployment of Telecom infrastructure within building premises to effectively address the right-of-way (RoW ) issues particularly in-building solutions (IBS) including optic fiber cable.

Keeping in mind Digital connectivity in times , the new consultation process is likely to advocate ratings of buildings based on their readiness for appropriate digital connectivity and inside coverage, indicating a need for certain modifications in the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) or the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, and urban development framework.

Industry estimates suggest that nearly 70% of mobile traffic originates from indoors only. 

The auction for 5G spectrum is expected to happen in second quarter of 2022, while the Department of telecom (DoT) has already extended trial spectrum allocation to telecom carriers upto May 2022 to demonstrate locally-relevant use cases.

Country’s top player Reliance Jio successfully conducted trials for connected robotics over its indigenous 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) and 5G Standalone (SA) Core network. Jio 5G Robotics have implemented a wide canvas of services – From heavy lifting and logistics at manufacturing warehouses, to healthcare robots assisting medical staff – from remote ultrasound enablement to industrial automation robots.

Jio claims to have developed its own homegrown 5G stack which it plans to export abroad once testing its competence on a pan-India scale.

Jio also added maximum active mobile users among the top telcos in October 2021 and retained its market leadership on the overall active user base count.

Mukesh Ambani-led Jio added 3.1 million active users, taking its October active user base to 358 million. Bharti Airtel, by contrast, lost 0.8 million, with its resultant active user base dipping to 346 million.

Loss-making Vodafone Idea (Vi) continued to lose active mobile users — as many as 1.4 million in October – dragging its active user base down to 234 million.

Apart from this, the country’s first 5G technology trials for rural broadband began on Thursday at Ajol village, with a base transceiver station (BTS) installed 17km away at Unava town in Gandhinagar district. Virtual-reality-connected classrooms, 5G immersive gaming and artificial intelligence-assisted 360 degrees cameras with real-time video streams are being tested.

All three telcos — Jio, Airtel, and Vi are currently running 5G field trials across cities with 5G spectrum sales expected to take place in the second half of CY 2022.

However, following requests from stakeholders, TRAI has extended the deadline for counter comments on two consultation papers — one on setting base prices of spectrum bands earmarked for 5G services. The telecom regulator has now sought comments and counter-comments by January 10 and January 24, 2022, respectively for the 5G spectrum bands paper.

In November, TRAI issued a consultation paper for fixing reserve prices of 10 spectrum bands earmarked by the government for 5G services. These include the 600 Mhz and the millimeter wave (mmWave) bands.

The industry has been urging the government to keep 5G spectrum prices nominal and streamline RoW policies to enable full proliferation of 5G services in the country.

Following the consultation process by TRAI, it will come out with its recommendations for spectrum pricing. The department of telecommunications will then take a final call on the matter.

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