Indian army, air force, and navy are all eager to leverage the power of 5G networks to up the ante of technology used for defending the country. Especially, the increasing role of artificial intelligence (AI) and unmanned vehicles in the army has put 5G in the limelight.
Ajay Kumar from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told ET Telecom that armed forces would soon need to migrate to 5G networks if they want to make efficient use of unmanned vehicles and AI. He said that the ministry is already wary of the immediate need of 5G and is taking the necessary steps that will be required to implement the next-generation connectivity technology into the concerned ecosystem.
Countries such as China have already started using 5G for their armed forces. The US Department of Defense had also announced a $600 million budget for conducting 5G experiments and tests at select military sites.
Defence Needs Separate Set of Spectrum
Rakesh Malhotra, a telecom consultant, said that the government would have to provide the army with a separate set of new frequencies in highly efficient bands for providing confidentiality on communications. He said that the spectrum required for defence applications and protocols must be different from the one provided commercially to the general public.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had said that the telcos would be provided with frequencies in the 3300-3600 MHz band for rolling out 5G services. Note that the MoD held 100 MHz of spectrum in the concerned band upon the time of the announcement. Upon several discussions with DoT, the MoD finally vacated the frequencies for the telcos to roll out 5G.
Kumar further said that the equipment must be sourced from trusted sources. The government has appointed the National Cybersecurity Coordinator (NCSC) as the designated body to oversee all the equipment and gear that the telcos purchase. NCSC is responsible for creating a list of ‘trusted’ companies through which telecom equipment for rolling out 5G and expanding 4G can be purchased in India.
India is still yet to launch a single commercial 5G network, and the spectrum auctions are still far away. Airtel might surprise everyone by being the first operator to launch non-standalone (NSA) 5G network in India.