India unprepared for rolling out 5G services: Parliamentary Panel report on IT – Latest News


NEW DELHI: A report by the Parliamentary Panel on IT has said that India is currently unprepared for rolling out the latest 5G telecom services, blaming the government’s lackluster approach to the launch of the technology, Hindustan Times reported.

This comes shortly after Sunil Mittal-led Airtel’s demonstration of 5G services in Hyderabad on a commercial network using its liberalized 1800MHz spectrum through Non-Standalone (NSA) network technology.

The government’s projection of getting almost Rs 54,000 crore ($7.4 billion) in revenue from the telecom sector in FY22 does not include proceeds from a 5G spectrum auction because no decision has been taken on holding such a sale, ET recently reported.

The Panel, which is headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, concluded that “sufficient preparatory work has not been undertaken for the launching of 5G services in India. As such, India has not moved beyond the modest beginning stage as compared to other countries in the world”.

However, government officials privy to the development told Hindustan Times that 5G trials are expected to commence shortly followed by its rollout in metro cities, and then to other parts of the country.

The report, citing previous experiences of the rollout of mobile network technologies such as 2G, 3G, and 4G said that 5G rollout may be further delayed in the country on account of “poor planning and execution”. The report further said the network technology may be expected towards the end of 2021 or early 2022, and even then the deployment would be partial.

On the other hand, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio is also expected to launch its 5G services towards the second half of 2021.

ETTelecom recently reported that Jio has developed 5G Radio integrated with Jio’s 5G core network and is in its development of in-house Massive MIMO and indoor 5G small cells is in advanced stages.

Jio Platforms along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Radisys Corporation recently partnered with Qualcomm to develop open and interoperable interface compliant architecture-based 5G solutions with a virtualized RAN.

The largest Indian telco is also awaiting the telecom department’s nod to test its 5G equipment.

Unless time-bound action is taken, “India is going to miss the bus on 5G opportunities,” the parliamentary committee report noted.

Though 5G trials were set to commence in 2019, but the deadline was pushed further ahead due to claims by the defence ministry and space ministry over the crucial 3300-3600MHz spectrum band.

The report also flagged an array of issues clouding the rollout of 5G services such as spectrum issues, uncertainty around the sale of 5G spectrum bands, amongst others.

“The Committee finds that inadequate availability of spectrum, high spectrum prices, poor development of use cases, low status of fiberization, non-uniform RoW {right of way} issues, deficient backhaul capacity, etc. are some of the factors coming in the way of rolling out of 5G services in India,” the report said.

One more issue that has been constantly bugging private telcos is the reserve price of spectrum for 5G which is Rs 492 crore per unit, as recommended by Trai. The official cited above said the government will have the final say on ‘fair prices’.

At a recent 5G Hackathon, the DoT identified 100 use cases of the technology. “Initially, 5G will be rolled out on the existing 4G core. It will then be developed further,” the official said.

The panel also noted the security issues surrounding the technology. It simplified the threats in an acronym ‘STRIDE’ where S stands for Spoofing, T for stands for Tampering, R stands for Repudiation, I for information disclosure, ‘D for denial of service, and E for escalation of privileges.

“Because of the increased dependency of communication networks, the hacking of 5G networks is a very clear national security risk. The only solution is to build secure and trustworthy indigenous communication infrastructure,” Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association informed the panel, according to the report.

The panel also noted the global security risks associated with Chinese telecom gear makers Huawei Technologies and ZTE and has called for stringent security mechanisms that should be adhered to by both public and private telcos.

Telecom expert Mahesh Uppal’s opinions resounded with the report.

“I think what the officials are saying suggests that there has been some movement and the government has been working on freeing up more spectrum for 5G,” Uppal said.

“We still do not know whether the last word has been said on that,” he was quoted as saying by the publication.





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