• Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Budget Watch: Govt may announce new 5G initiatives, focus on R&D for 6G | Budget 2024 News

5G

The 5G network has rapidly expanded to more than 700 districts across India, with 446,000 5G BTS | Photo: Shutterstock.com

The upcoming Union Budget may announce initiatives for the development of India’s 5G ecosystem, as well as funds for more research and development in 6G, officials at the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said.


In the 2023 Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the setting up of 100 labs for developing 5G applications. In April, the DoT launched an experimental licence module for 100 5G Labs during a workshop at IIT Madras. The Department has granted around 1,500 experimental licences for 5G labs so far.


This is part of the DoT’s keen interest in developing 5G use cases related to specific requirements of the country. “The recently launched 5G Intelligent Village Program aims to ensure equitable technological advancement using the technology to uplift rural communities. Similar such initiatives are being discussed,” a DoT official said.


The government believes that beyond higher internet speeds, India’s 5G rollout needs to bring about tangible difference in the lives of people, especially in the rural area, he stressed.


The programme calls for proposals to research and develop effective utilisation of Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC) and massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) aspects of 5G, in selected villages for a start.


“We have received suggestions from not only telecom service providers and research institutions, but also from industry players such as sensor manufacturers, CCTV suppliers, and Internet of Things (IoT) device manufacturers to bring in more ways to fund further research into 5G. These are being selected,” another official said.


The 5G network has rapidly expanded to more than 700 districts across India, with 446,000 5G BTS. On the other hand, India had more than 180 million 5G users at the end of fourth quarter (January-March) of FY25, with 108 million 5G customers logging into the Reliance Jio network and Airtel having 72 million 5G subscribers. However, both telcos have struggled to monetise 5G, with the service being priced at the same levels as 4G so far.


While 5G use cases such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and the use of 5G in education and health have been displayed by the telcos, the technology will begin to make them money only through enterprise use cases, which have been slow to take off.


6G vision


Officials said 5G infrastructure will be foundational in building 6G technology, which will introduce a new array of solutions. As a result, the finance minister is expected to mention the Bharat 6G vision in her speech, and announce initiatives for it, they added.


Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February, it aims to make the country a leading supplier of advanced telecom technologies and solutions ‘that are affordable and contribute to the global good’. Opening up 6G airwaves is part of India‚Äôs efforts to attain a key toehold in the global supply chain for emerging technology, such as satellite and terrestrial communication gear and components.


In July, 2023, the government announced a 6G THz Testbed with Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) & Multiplexing, and a Advance Optical Communication Test Bed will be set up by a consortium of several Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), and private sector majors such as Sterlite Technologies Limited, and Tejas network. A grant of Rs.240.51 crores from the Telecom Technology Development Fund (TTDF), had been made available for the project.


“Around 2030 is a reasonable time frame to expect the very first 6G live network. With the 6G Bharat vision, India has positioned itself as a significant player in shaping 6G technology standards. However, incremental policy initiatives, and further investments in R&D is needed to see the goal through,” an official said.


Global telecom equipment maker Ericsson has already set up dedicated 6G research teams in India and embarked upon forming strategic collaborations with academic institutions.

First Published: Jul 02 2024 | 9:03 AM IST

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