The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expected to provide the spectrum needed by telecom service providers for testing their 5G networks by September.
5G is the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks, superior to the 4G networks which currently provide connectivity to most cellphones.
The testing was originally scheduled for March but got delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Telecom operators will need six months for testing 5G devices and spectrum before we begin auctions;” said the official.
“We are looking at providing the spectrum for the testing by September so that they can begin the process,” the official said.
Will Chinese companies be excluded from 5G Trials?
DoT committee had recommended banning Chinese telecom equipment companies from participating in the trials and the subsequent auctions. This means that Indian telecom service providers cannot partner with Chinese telecom equipment makers. The two Chinese players with a strong presence in the telecom equipment segment in India are Huawei and ZTE.
“From the companies that had submitted applications in December 2019, we are considering allowing only Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung to participate in the 5G trials;” said the official.
Bharti Airtel had submitted its application to conduct trials in partnership with Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, and Ericsson.
Vodafone Idea had listed Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei as its partners.
Reliance Jio had earlier submitted an application with the South Korean giant Samsung, however the company later announced that it would broaden its 5G trial runs with the likes of Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia Networks rather than limiting itself to Samsung.
State-run telco BSNL, on the other hand, has submitted the application with ZTE only for trials.
“Banning Huawei and ZTE from 5G will increase our procurement costs and reduce competitiveness in the 5G space. Huawei had started roadshows in India and has a lead amongst most of its peers in the global 5G ecosystem;” said a senior executive from a telecom operator.