India approves 5G trials – if they don't use Chinese 5G kit

Government department wants carriers to facilitate testing of homegrown tech for India-specific use cases


India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has finally granted approval for service providers to start 5G trials.

Curiously, Chinese 5G equipment vendors, like Huawei and ZTE, did not make the list of approved network equipment providers.

The government issued press release named Bharti Airtel Ltd, Reliance JioInfocomm Ltd, Vodafone Idea Ltd, and MTNL as approved service providers, provided they use kit from Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-Dot. Reliance Jio will trial its own 5G equipment.

The original applications were submitted prior to the Sino-Indian border standoff that may or may not have resulted in malware warfare.

The original applications for the 2019-slated trials included companies like Airtel and Vodafone Idea partnering with Huawei and ZTE. India requested the resubmission of applications in September 2020 with an extra requirement to name priority vendors, reported local outlet ET Telecom.

Some companies took the hint and removed Chinese vendors from their proposed tech rigs.

the DoT listed the trial's objectives as testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics in the Indian context; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors; testing of indigenous technology; testing of applications such as tele-medicine, tele-education, AR/VR, drone-based agricultural monitoring; and to test 5G phones and devices.

The government department explicitly said it expects carriers to facilitate testing for homegrown use cases and equipment.

“The experimental spectrum is being given in various bands which include the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), millimeter wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz) and in Sub-Gigahertz band (700 GHz). TSPs will also be permitted to use their existing spectrum owned by them (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz) for conduct of 5G trials,” said the DoT, which encouraged TSPs to also conduct 5Gi technology as it “facilitates much larger reach of the 5G towers and radio networks.”

The approved trials will continue for six months, inclusive of a two-month procurement and set-up phase. Service providers must test across rural, urban, and semi-urban areas. The trials cannot be connected with existing networks and must be non-commercial. All resulting data must be stored in India. ®

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