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5G Rollout by October; Govt. Seeks Local Tech Stack

Government hopes to rollout 5G services by October and expects the tech stack to come from local players and startups

Telecommunication tower with mesh dots, glittering particles for wireless telecommunication technology

Government expects to rollout 5G services by early October and cover a good portion of India within the next 12 months. Alongside this announcement, government also made it clear that it wanted to promote local enterprise within the telecom ecosystem to develop the technology stack for 5G rollout indigenously. 

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said government will allocate the spectrum within a few days of the auction and thereafter push or 5G rollout to happen from early October. “Within a year or so, we should have a good rollout in the country,” he said. In parallel, telecom secretary K Rajaraman said India needs to promote local companies to test out various components of 5G. 

At a telecom investors’ roundtable in Mumbai, Rajaraman said “India must strongly promote local companies and try and test out various components; we should set up test pilots and do experiments so that we create local champions.” Readers would recall that India has curtailed telecom tech imports from China post the Galwan clash in 2020. 

This could be the fastest rollout

In fact, Minister Vaishnaw believes that if India managed to stick to the timetable drawn up for the 5G rollout, it could be faster than what other countries had achieved since the technology was first introduced. He made these comments on the sidelines of the Telecom Investor Roundtable – The Indian 5G Opportunity. 

“We believe that we will probably buck the trend of having a much faster rollout of 5G compared to many other geographies since our other costs are significantly under control,” the Minister said while ruling out any fears of a duopoly in the 5G space due to the significant presence of both Reliance Jio and Airtel at the auctions. 

Vocal for Local the 5G Tech Stack

Echoing Rajaraman’s sentiments, additional secretary DoT VL Kantha Rao said the telecom department would play matchmaker to ensure that those with ideas and seeking investments are connected to industry players post the requisite due diligence. He further asked the industry to share their views on what else government needs to do to make India a telecom giant. 

“We expect that the R&D fund from USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) will act as a seed fund for bringing in more investment from the industry. C-DOT (Centre for Development of Telematics) has set up a collaborative platform where industry investment can be leveraged to create technology stack which can be used by industry to approach markets,” he said.

The PLI Scheme is showing results

Earlier, the Minister said India’s production linked incentive scheme around the telecom sector had witnessed good response with thirty-one enterprises getting approvals and more than Rs. one lakh crore worth of incremental production likely to emanate. Over the next few years, the government expects a similar activity in the telecom equipment manufacturing sector as well. 

The minister also revealed that the governemtn would radically reform the existing regulatory framework for the telecom industry so that investments and advance planning could be made easier for enterprises. The department had recently floated a consultation paper seeking comments on reforming the legal framework for telecom, he added. 

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