The telecom operators in India, all of them, have come around for the 5G trials and submitted their applications for the same. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea have submitted their applications for the 5G field trials in India with various gear manufacturers. The gear manufacturers with whom these companies have submitted their applications include names like ZTE, Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung. While BSNL has only submitted an application with ZTE, Reliance Jio’s gear provider is only Samsung which is also the gar provider for all its network in India as well. As reported by ET Telecom, the last date for submitting these applications was January 15. As per a person aware of the matter, the telecom companies have asked for the spectrum in mid-band millimetre wave band and anchor 4G band for conducting 5G field trials. The person also highlighted that the DoT plans to start 5G trials as early as February 2020.
Huawei to Participate in 5G Trials
The person also highlighted, "Huawei will work with Vodafone Idea and Airtel in Delhi and Bangalore, respectively for 5G trials. Samsung and Jio will do the trial in Mumbai. Nokia and Ericsson will have similar arrangements with both VIL and Airtel for trials.” While Huawei will work with Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to deploy 5G in Bangalore and Delhi, Samsung will be testing the network in Mumbai with Jio. Nokia and Ericsson will also help VIL and Airtel in conducting tests in various places. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is likely to make some major announcements in the Mobile World Congress (MWC) to be held on February 24, 2020, in Barcelona. The department is also likely to issue WPC approval soon.
COAI Supports 5G Trials
Rajan Matthews, Director of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) which represents all the telecom operators, has also said, "We are pleased that these trials are commencing as we try to catch up with other markets. COAI has been working with telcos and the vendor community for the trials...they [DoT] want to to start trials as soon as possible and will review applications for compliance. There is a keen interest to conduct trials from everyone.”
Some of the people who are aware of the ongoings have said that Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel will use different vendors for different places to avoid interference issues. Also, the telecom operators have already submitted their uses cases defining what they are going to be using the technology for. The general use cases include wireless access and enhanced mobile broadband alongside some of the other specific use cases.
DoT to Allocate Spectrum for Testing Soon
Now the next step for the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is to allocate the spectrum to these telecom entities for testing. It is worth noting that the 5G trials were supposed to happen back in early 2019, but because of multiple delays, they could not happen. RS Prasad had also promised to conduct of trials within 100 days, but even that could no go as planned. Even with the trials on the way, there is still the concern of affordability of the 5G spectrum for the telecom companies. Although the 5G spectrum auction might happen later this year, but still the companies might find it not feasible enough to buy the exorbitantly priced 5G spectrum. The reserve prices by Trai have been opposed by the telecom companies and have been cited as being too high.