India likely to be 5G ready by 2020: DoT panel

telecom-tower-reuters [File] The move to extend payment period for the acquired spectrum will help as the pressures on cash flows will ease | Reuters

The government is likely to consider the recommendations made by the 5G Steering Committee, so as to hasten the allocation and auctioning of 5G technologies in the country.

To this effect, a panel to identify the 5G deployment roadmap for India, headed by Stanford University electrical engineering professor Arogyaswami Paulraj, submitted its recommendations to Aruna Sundararajan, telecom secretary. The report titled 'Making India 5G ready' was submitted on Thursday.

The report gave key recommendations and action plan on 5G spectrum policy, regulatory policy, education and awareness promotion, application and use case labs, participation in international standards, development of application layer standards and major 5G trials.

The committee has suggested that government may announce its policy by December 31 and issue necessary notifications. It has also asked for setting up a standing committee with five-year term to advice on building Spectrum Technology Infrastructure.

"In all likelihood these recommendations would be looked into and a 5G policy could be framed even before that," Sundararajan said speaking on the recommendations made.

"Last year we set up the standing committee asking it to look at deployment, technology and manufacturing. So far, only deployment has been taken up by the committee," she added saying the other two aspects would also be discussed threadbare by the department of telecom panel.

The report is believed to help firm up government's plans to announce auction in the 5G spectrum. "We could be ready with a 5G auction policy in three months," N. Sivasailam, special secretary, DoT told THE WEEK.

Despite the government's enthusiasm, a likely roll out of the 5G technology is likely to take place much later. "We expect to see a launch of 5G technology in the US by the first quarter of 2019. India could get 5G ready by 2020," said Paulraj.

Echoing similar views, telecom operators at the panel, too, said they would need a considerable amount of capital and time to understand the various applications of the new texhnology and to set up the required infrastructure.

"We need more than $2.5 billion in investments. Plus there are issues like right way, setting standards and others like allotment. This can help equipment manufacturers also, to set benchmarks for equipment sold to telecoms in India," said Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), who is also a member of the DoT panel on 5G.

India holds ambitions of being a pioneer in the 5G technology. With a strong base in software and hardware, the country aims to be a producer and an exporter of some of the key components of 5G technology.