Imagine being able to watch a live cricket match on your mobile phone in real time with no lag (or ‘network latency’)—or being able to do so while travelling from one end of your city to another with no disruption. Should India’s telcos see a trouble-free rollout of their 5G networks, that might well become a reality in the country. For now, the Centre’s DoT (Department of Telecommunications) has allotted test spectrum to various companies for testing and validation of their technologies, and plans to conduct auctions for 5G spectrum by July.
According to the DoT, 5G will at first be made available in 13 cities across India in 2022—Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Jamnagar, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune and Gandhinagar. India’s three top telcos—Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea—have already set up 5G trial sites in some cities to ensure they are war-ready to use the spectrum and infrastructure (optic fibre cables, etc.) that is to be brought online this year.
Reliance Jio, India’s largest cellular operator, with 429.5 million subscribers in September 2021, has said it has completed plans for coverage in 1,000 cities. Its rollout model is based on targeting customer consumption revenue via precise coverage planning. In November, Bharti Airtel conducted a 5G test in partnership with Nokia on the outskirts of Kolkata, while Vodafone Idea conducted similar trials in Gandhinagar in December. According to media reports, over the next two years, India will also see the installation of some 800,000 new mobile towers to facilitate the 5G rollout. There are also plans to connect up to 70 per cent of the towers using fibre optic cables by March 2024, up from the current 34 per cent.
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