5G: Will India Miss the Opportunity Yet Again

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India is planning to roll out 5G commercially as fast as possible. But looking at the other nations which have already tested and launched 5G commercially, it looks like India is not in the kind of hurry we thought it would be. Top telcos of the country have said several times that their networks are 5G ready. Yet, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) hasn’t availed spectrum for the telcos to initiate network tests. Even the recently held auctions didn’t include 5G spectrum (3300 MHz - 3600 MHz). Looking at the way things are going, it feels like India will miss the opportunity to be a global leader with 5G just like it did with 2G, 3G, and 4G.

Poor Planning and Execution the Reason Behind 5G Delay in India

Last month, the parliamentary panel on IT led by Shashi Tharoor said that India hasn’t even moved ahead of the starting stage with 5G when compared to other nations. The panel said that ‘sufficient preparatory work’ has not been executed to launch 5G networks in India.

It is worth noting that the telcos had already submitted their proposals for conducting 5G trials in January 2020. Despite no major issues, DoT didn’t avail the spectrum to the telcos so that they could initiate testing.

When questioned about the same, DoT said that it would avail the 5G spectrum for testing soon, and the testbed for 5G should be ready by October 2021. The panel termed the DoT's delays as ‘disappointing’, citing that the department hasn’t learnt from its past mistakes.

Exact dates for the commencement of the 5G tests are yet to come. Further, the 5G spectrum auctions are expected to take place after six months.

If the government moves fast now and does everything according to the plan, 5G could launch in India in early 2022 or even late 2021, but that would be a very rare possibility. For 5G to launch soon in the country, the telcos will either have to skip the testing completely or conduct its trials as soon as possible.

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