India delays 5G trials; Advocates “the Indian Way” within ITU-R WP 5D for IMT 2020

India Delays 5G Trials:

5G technology trials in India are now expected to begin by  the end of the current calendar year or early next year, according to a recently-constituted committee looking into the 5G field trial initiative.

5G trials may happen towards the end of this year or early next year. Early deployments may happen in the second or third quarter of 2020,” Abhay Karandikar, director, IIT Kanpur and chairman of the recently set up committee to look into SG spectrum for trials told ETT.

The much-anticipated 5G field trials have hit a policy roadblock with the department of telecom (DoT) wireless planning and coordination wing (WPC) averse to allocating airwaves beyond 90 days, which according to industry, would not serve any purpose.

March 29, 2919 Update from Prof AJ Paulraj:

“Government of India has confirmed that several statements in the article are incorrect. 5G trials are this year on and WPC has not created any hurdles.”

That implies the first reference cited (see below) is inaccurate.


Prof. Karandikar said that the industry needs to get trial spectrum for a reasonable duration or for at least one year with a minimum cost to telecom carriers for carrying out 5G trials.   “Current mechanisms of experimental license by DoT require modifications in terms of scope and duration for enabling telecom service providers and industry to undertake the 5G trial at the network level,” he said.

On February 25, the department has formed a committee headed by Karandikar with representation from the academia, industry and the government, to make recommendations related to licensing for carrying out 5G pilots, and also asked for the quantum, size, price and other aspects for offering experimental spectrum. The 5G India Forum will serve as a strategic national initiative which concerns all stakeholders, private and public, small and large, to meet the challenge of making 5G a reality in India, at timelines aligning with the rest of world.  5G India Forum is a collaborative body under the aegis of COAI.

Objective:  This 5G India forum aims to become the leading force in the development of next generation communications and will enable synergizing national efforts and will play a significant role in shaping the strategic, commercial and regulatory development of the 5G ecosystem in India.

Earlier in 2018, the Indian government has asked telecom service providers— Vodafone IdeaBharti Airtel and Reliance Jio— to partner with telecom gear makers such as Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia, and showcase India-specific 5G use cases by early 2019.

The department has so far excluded Chinese telecom equipment firm ZTE from awarding intent letter to participate in trials. Shenzhen-based Huawei said it was still awaiting clarity from the government to conduct 5G trials and could deploy a 5G network within the three week’s time after the allocation of trial radiowaves.

Karandikar, one of the sector regulator’s advisers is also a member of the 5G high-level forum which under the noted scientist AJ Paulraj is working on to prepare a roadmap for 5G rollout in the country in tandem with some of the matured markets worldwide.  In September 2018, the forum submitted its recommendations to the government which has constituted several implementation-level committees or working groups to develop a wider 5G deployment strategy.




ITU-R WP5D split on the way forward for IMT 2020 specifications:

At the February 2019 ITU-R WP5D meeting 31bis, TSDSI (India’s telecom standards body) submitted updated information related to their proposal of candidate IMT-2020 radio interfaces.  The TDSI contribution was reviewed and the respective IMT-2020 documents were revised accordingly.

This meeting received and reviewed a number of input contributions on Process and use of the Global Core Specification (GCS), references, and related certifications in conjunction with Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT‑2020.SPECS].”  There continues to be two diverse philosophies on how to proceed with the document – one desiring to significantly alter the process to support specific national needs (e.g. India) in the transposition phase of the process and the other demonstrating how the same objective could be accomplished with the existing process remaining unaltered in its scope, steps, and procedures.

The two views are Indian Way Forward (provided by TSDSI) and Summary of a Proposed IMT-2020 VVV Way Forward (AT&T v3 2-14-19) (provided by AT&T).

The Indian Way courtesy of TSDSI:

  • India believes that, the process works well ONLY for countries with strong industry presence in 3GPP
  • Most developing countries have no way to influence the technology they consume
  • Much of the value transactions in standardization are abrogated to external bodies
  • That relegates most of the developing countries to be consumers

What the ITU-R IMT 2020 standardization process should enable:

  • India believes the process should enable developing countries to take 3GPP (or other GCS) as the base specification.
  • Then provide enhancements and innovations to the base specifications, depending on local use cases.
  • TDSI believes it is possible to preserve interoperability/international roaming, while allowing for these regional enhancements
  • That is not enabled by the current process

TSDSI Proposal for ITU-R IMT-2020 Standard:

  • Reference to Base Specification  – Version 1.
  • Delta-DIS Version 1. (for national options)


ATIS endorses 3GPP IMT 2020 RIT submission to ITU-R WP 5D; sees no need for separate LMLC India national option

TSDSI’s Initial Proposal on candidate RIT/SRIT for IMT 2020 Accepted






7 thoughts on “India delays 5G trials; Advocates “the Indian Way” within ITU-R WP 5D for IMT 2020

  1. Indian telecom operators are extremely demanding: Ericsson’s managed services head

    Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson’s Head of Managed Services, Peter Laurin told ET’s Danish Khan that Indian telecom operators are extremely demanding, and the company is helping them with new technologies like Artificial Intelligence and automation to bring cost down. He said that 5G technology will increase network complexity for telcos, but will also offer new business opportunities.

    Is there a cost pressure coming from Indian telcos for managed services?

    India is probably one of the most competitive markets in the world, and telcos are extremely demanding. We want to make them successful. There is a lot of consolidation where we use our optimization, network design optimization capabilities. We also have a lot of our latest innovations in India. We have a lot of the AI use cases that we are implementing in India for the first time.

    So, we see that India is a great R&D hub for us, both in development and putting it into the field. We could say that we develop in India and we deploy it in the US. We are also deploying some of these new technologies in India as one of the first markets because it is so demanding.

  2. Vodafone Idea is worried that the 50% combined spectrum holding limit for sub-1GHz spectrum bands, which can be used for 5G in future, may allow just two carriers to corner the airwaves — a scenario that will undermine healthy competition in the industry.

    “While the pricing for the future spectrum is very important, access to spectrum is equally important,” P Balaji, chief regulatory officer at Vodafone Idea Ltd, told ET. “If 5G is the game of the future from 2020 onwards, then it is very important that all telcos should get access to 5G, and not just opportunity to buy 5G airwaves.”

    Balaji said the industry has four clear operators — Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd — which make for a great industry structure.

    “The access will allow for a vibrant competitive framework of providing 5G services, just like 2G, 3G, and 4G that are competitive, where the consumer gets a choice while the government’s objective is met,” he said.

    Brand Solutions

    5g Congress 2019
    Vodafone Idea, the market leader, is so far the only telco to call for a change to spectrum holding rules, while all the service providers have called for the 5G base prices to be lower than what the regulator has recommended.

    The government had last year increased the overall airwaves holding limit to 35% from 25%, and imposed a 50% cap on combined spectrum holdings in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands – all under 1 GHz –with the first two bands expected to be refarmed for 5G use in the future.

    5G spectrum auctions in India are expected either late this year or early next.

    “5G is like gold dust from a 10-year perspective,” said an industry official who requested not to be identified. “You need to have an adequate choice for consumers and enterprises…Therefore, 35% cap should be enforced for all the bands including the sub-GHz bands… This is the easiest way to ensure that there’s no monopoly or duopoly in 5G.”
    A 35% cap for all bands will ensure “there are enough incentives for price discovery through auction”, the official said. This level of holding for 5G bands will be large enough to create significant capacity for service delivery, the person said.

    Of the three private operators, Vodafone Idea — with a quarterly loss of over Rs 5,000 crore, debt of over Rs 1.14 lakh crore and net debt to Ebitda of over 25 times — is under more financial pressure than rivals Bharti Airtel, whose Indian operations are also making losses, and Reliance Jio Infocomm, which is the only telco posting profits.

    Balaji also reiterated Vodafone Idea’s stance that mid to end of 2020 will be the right time to auction new spectrum as the 5G ecosystem will be more mature and the industry will have business cases and use cases in place. “The networks are already getting ready to become 5G ready,” he said.

  3. Samsung ready for 5G trials; says India will come up with local 5G use cases

    Korean telecom gear maker Samsung said India will come up with its own 5G specific use cases that could be applicable to other markets and it will ensure that those use cases are supported by the company.

    “Government as part of the 5G forum included many of other partners who are focusing on identifying specific use cases [for India]. We just want to make sure the technology is available to support any of these uses cases,” Srini Sundarajan, Samsung India Senior Vice President and Head (Network Business), told ET in a recent interaction.

    India has some different sets of needs and the focus of the government is to develop 5G use cases around farming, education and next-gen manufacturing.

    “Education is something we are working with Japan that will be very useful for India… there are many use cases which have a lot of societal value and that could also play a big part on the 5G rollout,” he said.

    Sundarajan said that the company is working with the telecom department to help devise the 5G roadmap for the country. “Our goal primarily is to work with the DoT and ensure that we are able to show the value of 5G to all relevant people in government and partners of the government,” he added.

    The Narendra Modi government aims to kickstart the deployment of ultra-high speed 5G networks in the country by 2020.

    The company said that it is ready for 5G field trials in India, and is awaiting clarity from the telecom department (DoT). “We agreed that we will do trials with the government. But the clarity has to come from the government on various things.”

    Samsung said that it is ready to support 5G services on both 3.5Ghz and 26-28Ghz in India. 5G services using the mid-band or 3.5GHz will power use cases such as surveillance, smart city, and smart factories among others. Fixed wireless access (FWA) could become one of the main use cases of 5G using the 28Ghz band, Sundarajan said. In India, Samsung is the sole 4G equipment provider for Jio’s pan-India network and is also a technology provider for the telco’s narrowband IoT network.

    “We are agnostic since we have commercial deployments on both sides. We are opening up and showing these use cases. Depending upon where the interest comes both from government and operators, we will drive those use cases,” Sundarajan said.

    The much-anticipated 5G field trials have hit the policy roadblock with the department of telecom (DoT) wireless planning and coordination wing (WPC) averse to allocating airwaves beyond 90 days, which according to industry, would not serve any purpose.

    On February 25, the department has formed a committee with representation from the academia, industry and the government, to make recommendations related to licensing for carrying out 5G pilots, and also asked for the quantum, size, price and other aspects for offering experimental spectrum.

    The telecom department had previously invited vendors like Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, Huawei and Cisco to conduct 5G field trials in the country and test use cases. The department is expected to provide 100MHz of spectrum for these field trials in the country, along with the backhaul support.

  4. Telcos must bravely invest in 5G airwaves: Huawei India CEO

    Huawei India CEO Jay Chen says telcos must strongly invest in 5G spectrum once it’s available in India, failing which they run the risk of being left behind in a mobile broadband turf where the competition benchmark has shifted from affordability to network quality. Chen told ET’s Kalyan Parbat in Shenzhen that customers are no longer as price-sensitive as they were earlier, and are rapidly demanding an enhanced network experience with 4G services gaining mass traction and mobile video emerging as the new basic telecom service in India. Edited excerpts.

    Q: India’s older carriers have been averse to an early 5G spectrum sale and reluctant to spend big sums on 5G airwaves in the absence of a compatible ecosystem and relevant 5G use cases. Will such a strategy could prove counter-productive?

    A: Telecom operators must bravely invest in 5G airwaves (once available) as the 5G devices ecosystem will grow much faster than either 3G or 4G, coupled with the fact that spectrum utilisation efficiency levels will also be higher, which will make customer experience on 5G networks a superior one. These are important considerations, especially if they wish to enjoy sustainable leadership in terms of network quality and user experience in a competitive market.

    Q: But telcos say they are under immense financial stress in the sector…

    A: The Indian telecom industry is witnessing a gradual shift from affordability to quality. Customers are no longer as price-sensitive as they were before, and are increasingly demanding an enhanced network experience, especially with the mass popularity of mobile video and further development of 4G.

    Q: You mean the competition benchmark has shifted from low tariffs to one based on better network quality and user experience?

    A: Well, in metros and key cities, an operator’s core competitiveness will be defined by high quality networks offering a superior customer experience, and will no longer be determined by low tariffs. Operators having low quality networks will lose competitiveness and eventually their high-value users and markets.

    Q: Some operators blame the decline in overall quality of mobile services to heavy clogging in networks, amid explosive demand for data services. Your views.

    A: Operators have to a degree been compelled to compromise on network quality amid sustained financial stress caused by continuing price wars. But in an era where users are willing to pay for a superior mobile broadband network experience, any compromise on network quality and experience would automatically compromise the competitiveness of a telco.

    Q: From a global network vendor’s perspective, what ought to be the immediate priorities of telcos to survive and grow in a market where network capacity requirements are huge, spectrum cost is high and there is a paucity of last-mile fiber?

    A : Operators must resolutely invest in solutions that improve spectrum efficiency to address capacity requirements in any given spectrum band. Besides speeding up VoLTE rollouts across the country and refarming 2G/3G airwaves for 4G services, telcos must also invest in large-capacity transmission and backhaul solutions and simultaneously in customer experience management.

    Q: How is Huawei partnering with telcos to help them realise such objectives?

    A: Operators and network gear suppliers are natural allies in chasing the twin goals of superior network quality and experience. But operators must adopt positive vendor strategies to leverage OEM (original equipment manufacturer) interest and investment in network quality and experience improvement by working hand-in-hand. Huawei has customised a spate of solutions such as Massive MIMO, CloudAIR and SuperBAND that improve spectrum efficiency and quality. Indian operators have welcomed Huawei’s solutions in large-capacity 5G microwave along with 200G/400G WDM (wavelength division multiplexing) transmission technologies that can complement fiber and reduce fiber-related concerns to a minimum.

    (The journalist was in Shenzhen on the invitation of Huawei)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Recent Posts