CHENNAI: In a move that would place Indian telecoms in good stride amidst cut-throat global competition, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday has announced setting-up of 5G test bed, which will enable companies to conduct research experiments on the latest generation of mobile telephony domestically. The facility will come up at IIT Madras, which will also act as a torch-bearer for this ambitious project.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has already drawn up an action plan and a high-level forum has been constituted to ensure the test bed is fully operational in three years.
The project is a multi-institutional initiative involving IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IISc Bangalore, CEWiT (Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology at IIT Madras) and SAMEER in Chennai.
When contacted, IIT Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi, who is a key member in the high-level forum, said the proposal was to build an end-to-end test bed for 5G technology located at multiple locations among the consortium, interconnected by a high-speed fibre-optic network.
“It will incorporate several new technologies developed and will be compliant with the emerging global 5G standard to which India is making significant contributions. In particular, it will include Internet of Things (IoT), Millimeter Wave Communications, Massive MIMO, Software Defined Networking, Network Function Virtualisation, LiFi, and Network Security,” he said and added that the project would cost around `240 crore.
He said it would enable developers across the country, particularly the start-ups to live-test products. “It is expected that several start-ups will emerge from this nationwide effort to build next-generation wireless technologies based on our own IP. IIT Madras is the lead institution for executing this project. We are also developing some 5G enabled chips.”
Ramamurthi told Express that first round 5G standardisation will be completed by this year end and go for evaluation before International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in which India is also participating. The ITU is likely to approve the 5G technology in 2020 and India should also be ready to adopt the change.
“Only Korea and Japan are likely to use the 5G technology before 2020 during the Olympics. Otherwise, the commercial rollout is expected only after 2020. This time India wants to be on a par with developed nations in development and is embracing the new technology. In the past when 3G and 4G have arrived, India was at least 5-6 years late. But this time, telecoms like Jio may switch over to 5G much earlier,” he said.
IIT Hyderabad director UB Desai said that this was the first-of-its-kind initiative in India. Such a test bed domestically will open up massive opportunities for manufacturing and start-up ventures.
Nasscom chairman Raman Roy has also welcomed the decision of the Centre and said 5G is the future and the government was thinking in right direction. “The government has provided `10,000 crore for creation and augmentation of telecom infrastructure. We are very excited about the announcement,”
Just to understand the potential of 5G in India, the recently released Ericsson 5G Business Potential Report says 5G will enable a $27 billion revenue opportunity for Indian telecom operators by 2026. The largest opportunity will be seen in sectors like manufacturing, energy and utilities followed by public safety and health sectors. This will be over and above the revenue generated from traditional services which are expected to grow up to $63 billion by 2026.