Intel working with Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel on 5G for India

Intel said that it is helping Reliance Jio make the transition from 4G to 5G as part of their 5G infrastructure deal. Intel and Jio are collaborating in the areas of 5G radio, core, cloud, edge and artificial intelligence.

“…our collaboration spans those areas, and it’s co.innovation. So, we have got our engineering and business unit teams working closely with Reliance Jio in those areas. And we are committed towards helping customers and partners like Reliance Jio to make the transition from 4G to 5G,” Prakash Mallya, vice president and MD of sales, marketing and communications group at Intel told ET.

Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, had in 2020 invested Rs 1,894.50 crore to buy a 0.39% equity stake in Jio Platforms.

Separately, Bharti Airtel Wednesday said it is collaborating with  Intel for working towards 5G network development by leveraging Virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) and O-RAN technologies.

This is Intel’s second 5G-related partnership in India.  As per the above, Intel is collaborating with Reliance Jio to help India’s #1 telco with its 5G network development, including in the areas of 5G radio, core, cloud, edge, and artificial intelligence.

Airtel will deploy Intel’s 3rd-generation Xeon Scalable processors, FPGAs, and eASICS, and Ethernet 800 series across its network to build a foundation for rolling out wide-scale 5G, mobile edge computing (MEC) and network slicing which requires a 5G SA core network.

The partnership will also allow Airtel to tap into the hyperconnected world where Industry 4.0, cloud gaming, and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR) become an integral part of daily lives, according to an official statement.

Earlier this year, Airtel became the first telecom operator in India to demonstrate 5G over a live network in Hyderabad using liberalized spectrum.

The Sunil Mittal-led Bharti is also conducting 5G trials in major cities such as Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub in the Millennium city and in Mumbai’s Phoenix Mall in Lower Parel, in partnership with Swedish Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia, respectively, ET previously reported.

Airtel also entered into a partnership with Tata Sons and Tata Consultancy Services to deploy OpenRAN 5G solutions, including radio and core. It plans to begin pilot in January 2022.

Jio has developed and tested its homegrown 5G solutions together with its partners in India and plans to export the solutions to global markets once proven at a pan-India scale.

Prakash Mallya, vice president and MD of sales, marketing and communications group at Intel recently told ET that the company is helping Indian telecom operators. On Jio partnership, he said that Intel is helping the Mukesh Ambani-led telco transition from 4G to 5G as part of their 5G infrastructure deal.

Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, had in 2020 invested India Rupees 1,894.50 crore to buy a 0.39% equity stake in Jio Platforms.

Randeep Sekhon, CTO – Bharti Airtel said, “Airtel is delighted to have Intel as a part of its rapidly expanding partner ecosystem for 5G. Intel’s cutting-edge technologies and experience will contribute immensely to Airtel’s mission of serving India with world-class 5G services. We also look forward to working with Intel and home-grown companies to unlock India’s potential as a global 5G hub.”

“Airtel is delivering their next-generation enhanced network with a breadth of Intel technology, including Intel Xeon Scalable processors and FlexRAN software to optimize RAN workloads with embedded intelligence, to scale their infrastructure and deliver on the promise of a connected India,” Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate vice president, Network Platforms Group said in a joint statement.

References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/intel-helping-jio-transition-from-4g-to-5g-india-md/84608834

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/after-jio-intel-lands-new-o-ran-5g-network-deal-with-airtel/84611108

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/wireless-network/5g-business-opportunity-infographic.html

https://cmte.ieee.org/comsoc-tech-blog/2020/07/20/reliance-jio-claim-complete-5g-solution-from-scratch-with-100-home-grown-technologies/

https://cmte.ieee.org/comsoc-tech-blog/2020/05/21/india-telecom-revenue-to-slow-through-march-2021-5g-spectrum-auction-delayed-yet-again/

 

India approves backhaul satellite connectivity via VSAT for telecom services; BharatNet tender coming soon

India’s Digital Communications Commission (DCC), formerly the Telecom Commission, has authorized use of satellite connectivity in telecom networks to provide services in remote areas where it is difficult to lay fiber optic cable.  As a result, VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminals) operators will now be able to provide satellite-based cellular backhaul connectivity to telcos in India.  That enables Indian wireless telecom communications service providers, like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, to use satellite capacity from VSAT license holders, such as Hughes, Nelco and BSNL, to connect their cell sites.

“With a view of ease of doing business, the DCC has approved provision of cellular backhaul connectivity via satellite through VSAT for telecom services as per Trai recommendation,” said India’s Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash.

VSAT backhaul can also help Indian telcos cost-effectively extend coverage in rural and remote areas that are yet to be connected with fiber. Around 50% of India’s population is not yet connected to the Internet.

Several global LEO satellite providers, including Elon Musk’s Starlink, Bharti backed OneWeb and Amazon’s Project Kuiper, have recently started exploring the Indian market.  OneWeb specifically will offer satellite capacity for cellular backhaul, but will need a VSAT permit to provide satellite-based backhaul services to the telcos.

Starlink and Project Kuiper have different business models, focusing on providing satellite-based broadband Internet directly to end users.

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Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash also said that the DCC has also cleared the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the rollout of BharatNet project for broadband services in villages in 16 Indian states in public private partnership mode with viability gap funding of Rs 19,041 crore (or US$ 2,544,834.60).  “DoT (Department of Telecom) will come out with the tender for the PPP mode rollout of BharatNet in 16 states in seven days,” Prakash said.

India Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

BharatNet project objectives are to:

  1. To carry on the business of establishment, management and operation of National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) which has been envisaged by the Government of India to provide high speed broadband connectivity to all gram panchayats.
  2. To provide access to bandwidth in a non discriminatory manner to all eligible service providers to enable them to provide services in rural areas.

Comment and Analysis: 

Just as India’s 5G spectrum auction has been the victim of one delay after another, so has the BharatNet project.  The timeline for 2nd phase of the BharatNet project, earlier slated to be completed by August 2021, was extended with no definitive completion date.

“The phase-II project was envisaged to be completed by August 2021. However, this time will now be extended as the pace of completion is affected by and restrictions on movement imposed by the various Governments due to COVID-19,” said India Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre.

“The delay in the implementation by the states is also adversely affecting the completion of the project. For other states, not being implemented under state-led model, the implementation strategy is under the process of review,” he added.

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References:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/dcc-clears-backhaul-satellite-connectivity-via-vsat-for-telecom-services-rs-19041-cr-bharatnet-tender-dot-secy-7390480/

https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/dcc-clears-backhaul-satellite-connectivity-via-vsat-for-telecom-services-19041-cr-bharatnet-tender-dot-secy/article35153674.ece

http://bbnl.nic.in/

https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/bharatnet-s-phase-2-completion-timeline-to-be-extended-due-to-covid-dhotre-120091701226_1.html

https://www.lightreading.com/asia/india-lets-vsat-offer-satellite-backhaul-connectivity-to-csps/d/d-id/770701?

 

5G Made in India: Bharti Airtel and Tata Group partner to implement 5G in India

On June 21st, Bharti Airtel and Tata Group announced a strategic partnership for implementing 5G network solutions for India.  A 5G pilot should start in January 2022, unless it’s delayed by India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The announcement underscores a push for indigenous made 5G solutions in India.  Despite tremendous hype, the world’s second-largest telecom market has not yet launched commercial 5G service.

Airtel’s partnership with Tata Group allows the telecom operator to take head-on, rival Reliance Jio’s so called “homegrown 5G solutions.”   Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio is accelerating the rollout of digital platforms and indigenously-developed next-generation 5G stack.

According to a statement, Tata Group has developed O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) based radios and 5G NSA/SA (Non-Standalone=4G-LTE/Standalone) Core and has integrated a totally indigenous telecom stack, leveraging the Group capabilities and that of its partners.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) brings its global system integration expertise and helps align the end-to-end solution to both 3GPP and O-RAN standards, as the network and equipment are increasingly embedded into software,” the Tata statement added.

Airtel will pilot and deploy this indigenous solution as part of its 5G rollout plans in India, with a pilot beginning in January 2022, as per the norms formulated by the government.

Gopal Vittal, Managing Director & CEO (India and South Asia) Bharti Airtel said, “We are delighted to join forces with the Tata Group to make India a global hub for 5G and allied technologies. With its world-class technology ecosystem and talent pool, India is well positioned to build cutting edge solutions and applications for the world. This will also provide a massive boost to India becoming an innovation and manufacturing destination.”

N Ganapathy Subramaniam from the Tata group/TCS said, “As a group, we are excited about the opportunity presented by 5G and adjacent possibilities. We are committed to building a world-class networking equipment and solutions business to address these opportunities in the networking space. We are pleased to have Airtel as our customer in this initiative.” 

Airtel is a board member of the O-RAN Alliance and is committed to explore and implement O-RAN-based networks in India. Earlier this year, Airtel became the first telecom company in India to demonstrate 5G over its LIVE network in the city of Hyderabad. The company has started 5G trials in major cities using spectrum allocated by the Department of Telecom.

The Tata group’s telecom and media enterprises cater to the communication requirements of global business houses to SMEs, and from wholesale to home networks. TCS is a member of the O-RAN Alliance.

About Airtel: 

Headquartered in India, Airtel is a global communications solutions provider with over 471 mn customers in 18 countries across South Asia and Africa. The company ranks amongst the top three mobile operators globally and its networks cover over two billion people. Airtel is India’s largest integrated communications solutions provider and the second-largest mobile operator in Africa. Airtel’s retail portfolio includes high-speed 4G/4.5G mobile broadband, Airtel Xstream Fiber that promises speeds up to 1 Gbps with convergence across linear and on-demand entertainment, streaming services spanning music and video, digital payments, and financial services. For enterprise customers, Airtel offers a gamut of solutions that includes secure connectivity, cloud and data centre services, cybersecurity, IoT, Ad Tech, and cloud-based communication. For more details visit www.airtel.com 

About the Tata Group:

Founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868, the Tata group is a global enterprise, headquartered in India, comprising 30 companies across ten verticals. The group operates in more than 100 countries across six continents, with a mission ‘To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally, through long-term stakeholder value creation based on Leadership with Trust’.

Tata Sons is the principal investment holding company and promoter of Tata companies. Sixty-six percent of the equity share capital of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts, which support education, health, livelihood generation, and art and culture. In 2019-20, the revenue of Tata companies, taken together, was $106 billion (INR 7.5 trillion). These companies collectively employ over 750,000 people.

Each Tata company or enterprise operates independently under the guidance and supervision of its own board of directors. There are 29 publicly-listed Tata enterprises with a combined market capitalization of $123 billion (INR 9.3 trillion) as of March 31, 2020. Companies include Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Tata Consumer Products, Titan, Tata Capital, Tata Power, Tata Advanced Systems, Indian Hotels, and Tata Communications.

For more details visit www.tata.com

For more information, please contact:  Harsha Ramachandra harsha.r@tata.com

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References:

https://www.tata.com/newsroom/business/tata-airtel-5g

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/business/airtel-tata-group-team-up-for-made-in-india-5g-network-solutions-271955

https://www.greaterkashmir.com/todays-paper/airtel-tata-grouptcs-announce-collaboration-for-made-in-india-5g

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June 25, 2021 Update Reliance Jio partners with Google Cloud for “5G edge enabled services”
India’s leading mobile operator, Reliance Jio, is teaming up with Google Cloud to deliver 5G services to consumers and enterprises. The operator will make use of the cloud giant’s distributed infrastructure to deliver its services and the two companies will team up to offer edge-enabled 5G services to Indian enterprise users. In addition, Google and Jio shared more details around their jointly developed made-for-India smartphone called JioPhone Next. And as part of a broader deal, the Reliance Group’s retail divisions will use Google’s cloud platforms to improve efficiency and gain scale. For further details, see this announcement.

Bharti Airtel’s 5G trial network goes live in Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub

Bharti Airtel’s 5G trial network has gone live in Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub [1.] in the Millennium city, sources familiar with the matter said. The site is operating in the 3500 MHz band using Ericsson’s 5G network equipment as per DoT guidelines and is delivering a throughput of over 1 Gbps.

Note 1Gurgaon is a city located in the northern Indian state of Haryana. It is situated near the DelhiHaryana border, about 30 kilometers (~19 miles) southwest of the national capital New Delhi and 268 km (167 mi) south of Chandigarh, the state capital. It is one of the major satellite cities of Delhi and is part of the National Capital Region of India.

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Airtel is currently working with Oppo, OnePlus, Vivo, Realme and Apple to test its 5G trial network, sources told ETTelecom.  A 5G trial network will go live in Mumbai in the coming days.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had recently allocated 5G trial spectrum in the 700 Mhz, 3.5 Ghz and 26 Ghz bands to Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea (Vi) to develop India-relevant use cases on the next-gen fast wireless broadband technology.

Airtel has been allotted 5G trial spectrum in 3500 MHz, 28 GHz and 700 MHz in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru (aka Bangalore). Earlier this year, Airtel became the first telco in India to test 5G over a live network using liberalized spectrum in 1800 MHz band.

Allotment of 5G trial spectrum is particularly crucial for Jio and Airtel, who already have 5G-ready networks and have recently bulked up on crucial airwaves in the recent auction to cater to the surge in data usage amid Covid and also future-proof themselves ahead of 5G rollouts.

Airtel and Vodafone Idea had opted for Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson while BSNL plans to partner state-run Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT). Jio had named Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson besides applying to trial its own technology.

Both Jio and Airtel have already claimed their end-to-end readiness to launch commercial 5G services in the country shortly after the availability of “adequate” spectrum.

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In January, Airtel became the first telco to successfully demonstrate live 5G service over a commercial network in Hyderabad in the 1800 MHz band through the NSA (Non-Stand Alone) network technology.

Airtel in the past has noted that 5G will be capable of delivering 10x speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency when compared to existing technologies. It noted that in Hyderabad, users were able to download a full-length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G phone, a demonstration that has underlined the company’s technology capabilities. The full impact of the 5G experience, however, will be available to Airtel’s customers, when an adequate spectrum is available and government approvals are received. Users will not be required to switch SIM cards when the network is available for them.

References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/airtels-mid-band-5g-trial-network-live-in-gurgaons-cyber-hub/83502175

https://www.indiatoday.in/technology/news/story/airtel-5g-network-trial-goes-live-in-gurgaon-shows-1gbps-download-speed-1814649-2021-06-14#

 

 

 

India 4G Spectrum Auction Raises 778 billion Rupees

After much delay, India’s 4G spectrum auction has ended in just two days, raising Indian Rupee (INR) 778 billion (US $10.6 billion) for the government. The auction was held on March 1st and 2nd by India’s Department of Telecommunications.  The airwaves acquired will help India’s telecom network operators add 4G capacity and get ready for 5G.

India auctioned spectrum in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz frequency bands. However, the 700MHz spectrum remained unsold because of the high reserve price.

India telecom network operators Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea won spectrum in the government’s latest auction.

India’s largest telco, Reliance Jio announced it has acquired the right to use spectrum in all 22 circles across India in the auction. The upstart network operator secured spectrum in the 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz frequency bands, which increases Jio’s spectrum footprint by 55 percent to 1,717 MHz.

Jio will pay INR 571.23 billion for the right to use this spectrum for a period of 20 years. Payments can be made over a period of 18 years (2-year moratorium plus 16-year repayment period), with interest at 7.3 percent per year.

Reliance Jio now claims to have the highest amount of sub-GHz spectrum with 2×10 MHz contiguous spectrum in most circles. It also has at least 2×10 MHz in the 1800 MHz band and 40 MHz in the 2300 MHz band in each of the 22 circles. The operator also reports it has achieved complete spectrum derisking, with average life of owned spectrum of 15.5 years. Reliance Jio will acquire the spectrum with an effective cost of INR 608 million per MHz. Jio also says the acquired spectrum can be used for provision of 5G services.

“The acquired spectrum can be utilized for transition to 5G services at the appropriate time, where Jio has developed its own 5G stack,” says the Jio press release.

India’s second-largest network service provider, Bharti Airtel acquired 355.45 MHz of spectrum across sub-GHz, mid-band and 2300 MHz bands for a total price of INR 186.99 billion. Airtel will use this spectrum to upgrade its deep indoor and in-building coverage in urban towns. In addition, this spectrum will also help improve its coverage in villages by offering the superior Airtel experience to an additional 90 million customers in India. Airtel also plans to use this spectrum to deliver 5G services in future.

An Airtel statement mentioned that the “the reserve pricing of these bands [700MHz and 3.5GHz] must be addressed on priority in future. This will help the nation to benefit from the digital dividend that will inevitably arise out of this.”

“Airtel has now secured pan-India footprint of sub GHz spectrum that will help improve its deep indoor and in building coverage in every urban town,” as per the company’s statement.

Vodafone Idea entered this spectrum auction “holding the largest quantum of spectrum with a very small fraction, which was administratively allocated and used for GSM services, coming up for renewal”.

As a result, Vodafone Idea acquired spectrum in only five circles for INR 19.93 billion. The operator said it has used this opportunity to optimize spectrum holdings post-merger to create further efficiencies in a few circles. Vodafone Idea expects the spectrum it has acquired in five circles to help it enhance its 4G coverage and capacity.

 

India’s just completed spectrum auction does not contain any airwaves for 5G

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Reliance Jio’s decision to be the biggest spenders at the auction comes shortly after its holding company, Jio Platforms, reported ₹22,858 crore in revenue during the quarter to December, which was a 30% improvement from the year prior.

Last year, Jio Platforms sold a third of itself to others for ₹152,056 crore. Buyers included Google, Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR, Mubadala, ADIA, TPG, L Catterton, PIF, Intel Capital, and Qualcomm Ventures.

References:

https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/india-sells-spectrum-worth-rs-77000-crore-as-operators-add-4g-capacity-focus-on-5g

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/india-completes-spectrum-auction-raises-inr-778-billion–1374417

India to start long delayed spectrum auction on March 1st

India is FINALLY set to hold its first spectrum auction for four years on March 1st when it offers up 2,250 MHz of spectrum across seven bands ranging from 700 MHz to 2.5 GHz.  Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea  (Vi) are expected to bid for airwaves worth Rs 3.92 lakh crore at base price. Industry analysts see a muted response, given the strained condition of the telecom sector, and expect the government to generate only Rs 40,000-50,000 crore from the sale.

Editors Note:

One rupee crore, as of 2014, is approximately equivalent to $163,720, using the exchange rate of 61.07 rupees per U.S. dollar. In the south Asian numbering system, a crore is equivalent to 10 million.

lakh is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand (100,000; scientific notation: 105).

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The sale will help Reliance Jio renew a chunk of expiring spectrum permits and offer Bharti Airtel and Vi a chance to add to their bandwidth holdings as data usage rises. Experts expect Jio, the only profit-making carrier, to be the main buyer and spend close to Rs 20,000-30,000 crore, followed by Airtel at Rs 10,000-15,000 crore, and Vi pitching in with a few thousand crores by bidding for only some airwaves. The spending will add to the telcos’ debt, making tariff hikes more likely.

ETD-1-07012021

SOURCE:  Economic Times of India

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The main objectives of the auction were to obtain a “market-determined price for the spectrum on offer, ensure efficient use of spectrum and avoid hoarding,” stimulate competition in the sector and maximize revenue proceeds, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said in the NIA.

The government is putting on sale 660 MHz in the 700 MHz band, 230 MHz in 800 MHz band, 81.4 MHz in 900 MHz band, 313.6 MHz in 1800 MHz band, 175 MHz in 2100 MHz band, 560 MHz in 2300 MHz band and 230 MHz in 2500 MHz band.  Indian telcos have spent nearly Rs 3.7 lakh crore over six spectrum auctions since 2010. But this is the first time there are likely to be only three bidders.

COAI, the industry body that represents the telcos, said the government had addressed the requirement for availability of more spectrum. But lower reserve prices would have provided additional resources for network expansion for the telcos. “High reserve prices (in the past) have resulted in large amounts of spectrum remaining unsold,” said COAI in a statement.

COAI said the auction will enable the industry to cater to the exponential increase in data usage which will facilitate in supporting the Digital India vision. “While the government has addressed the requirement for the availability of more spectrum, lowering the reserve prices would have provided additional resources for network expansion to the telcos. High reserve prices in past auctions have resulted in large amounts of spectrum remaining unsold. We hope the Govt. will take additional measures to boost the financial health of the industry, which is the backbone of a digitally connected India,” COAI DG SP Kochhar said.

In the premium 4G spectrum (700 MHz), Trai had reduced the reserve price by 43% compared to 2016 auctions, at Rs 6,568 crore per MHz, for a pan-India 5 MHz block, still, operators would have to shell out Rs 32,840 crore, which is seen as quite high. In the 2016 auctions, the government had mopped a total amount of Rs 65,789 crore, 4% over the reserve price, from the country’s six operators who participated in the bidding. However, this was a lukewarm response as only 965 MHz spectra got sold against a total of 2,353 MHz put up on sale, meaning that only 40% got sold.

According to analysts, Reliance Jio may be the only buyer of some airwaves in the premium 700 MHz band, with its rivals likely giving it a miss, despite a 43% cut in the base price from the 2016 sale, when they went unsold. This band alone is valued at Rs 2.3 lakh crore, with the rest of the bands worth Rs 1.62 lakh crore, at base price, according to brokerage Motilal Oswal.

While the NIA has clauses to factor in new entrants, including foreign players, industry experts say it’s unlikely that any new player will join the fray, given the dire state of the industry with debt of over Rs 8 lakh crore, weak pricing power and only one profit-making telco.

“Jio will focus on 800 MHz for renewal and adding capacity as its market share increases. Vi may look at optimization of spectrum since it has surplus airwaves in the 1800 MHz while Airtel will look at 1800 MHz as well,” said Rajiv Sharma, a telecom expert. “…this auction will further add to the operators’ debt, which in turn gets them closer to tariff hikes.”

The base rate of airwaves in the efficient 800 MHz band was pegged at Rs 4,745 crore a unit, which is around 20% less than the previously recommended minimum of Rs 5,819 crore a unit for 2016. The starting price for 1800 MHz spectrum though was set higher at Rs 3,291 crore a unit, compared with Rs 2,873 crore a unit previously.

A substantial portion of Jio’s own airwaves and those it shares with Reliance Communications in the 800 MHz band expires in 12 and 14 circles, respectively, starting July 2021. Without these airwaves, Jio’s services in these circles will be impacted, making it imperative that the telco bid for them, analysts said.   Jio, with over 406 million subscribers, also needs additional airwaves to cater to surging data demand and a rapidly growing user base that it expects to touch 500 million.

Airtel and Vi – with about 294 and 272 million users, respectively – own less expensive spectrum, mostly in the 1800 MHz band, set to expire across eight circles each from July. Both of those telcos have backup airwaves in most service areas. Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal has previously said that the company will look mainly for for sub-1 GHz spectrum.

For spectrum which isn’t immediately available and which will be assigned beyond one month of the close of this auction, the component of the upfront payment payable will be 10% of the bid amount for sub-1 GHz bands, and 20% of the bid amount for other bands. “…and the balance component of upfront payment (total of which is 25% for sub-1 GHz and 50% for other bands) shall be made one month prior to the ‘effective date’,” the DoT said.

References:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/telecom/telecom-policy/spectrum-auction-to-start-on-march-1/articleshow/80133307.cms

https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/government-to-hold-spectrum-auction-on-march-1/2165852/4

India ramps up supply chain for 5G service launch in 2021 pending spectrum auction

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/12/28/economic-times-indias-big-bet-on-5g-in-2021-starts-with-5g-spectrum-auction/

https://www.lightreading.com/asia/indias-govt-advised-to-make-5g-spectrum-more-affordable/d/d-id/766994?

 

India ramps up supply chain for 5G service launch in 2021 pending spectrum auction

There is excitement about the anticipated launch of 5G telecom services in India, but the government’s spectrum pricing strategy may be a damper. While the evolving ancillary segments are working on the backbone infrastructure for the 5G roll-out following Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani’s assurance that Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd will launch 5G wireless service in the second half of 2021, experts, however, said that India is not 100% ready.

India telecom equipment company Sterlite Technologies Ltd (STL) said India has been developing 5G infrastructure, but a pan-India roll out will require improving the device, spectrum, wireless and fiber optic ecosystem. “India has the capability of rolling out 5G as we have been building the infrastructure for years now. However, for a countrywide end-to-end deployment, India is not 100% ready… At STL, we will start commercial deployment of open-RAN (open radio access) that is required for 5G by second half of 2021,” said Anand Agarwal, group chief executive at STL.  The primary impact of 5G roll-out will be on the commercial ecosystem.  According to Agarwal, global supply chains have already matured and are 5G-ready, which makes it easier to import raw material (this author finds that very difficult to believe).

Experts said stressed financials of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd (Vi) could discourage them to participate in the 5G launch, in view of the costs involving fiberization and the pricing of spectrum. Airtel and Vi are sitting on massive debts but continue to offer among the lowest tariffs in the world. The telcos have also called for affordable spectrum.

Analysts said the spectrum auction in March may see limited participation from Airtel and Vi due to high reserve prices. Jio, however, is likely to buy spectrum in the 700 megahertz (MHz) band, which is best suited for 5G.

Meanwhile, phone makers have also started producing 5G devices too. Faisal Kawoosa, the founder of techARC, said that India imported nearly two million 5G smartphones in 2020. “While most of these were in ultra-premium range, this year, any new smartphone priced above 30,000 should support 5G,” Kawoosa said, adding that 7-9% of all smartphones sold in India in 2021 are likely to support 5G, making it nearly four times the imports.  However, will those so called “5G” users actually get 5G service, especially when roaming?

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The big 3 Indian telcos are likely to voice their concerns to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP-2018) has not been updated by the department’s wireless planning cell (WPC) more than a year after several new airwave bands, including the 26 Ghz spectrum, were identified by the ITU-R WRC 19 for 5G deployments worldwide, including in India.

The NFAP is a central policy roadmap that defines future spectrum usage by all bodies in the country, including DoT, the Department of Space and the defence ministry. Telcos want it revised quickly as any further delay could potentially hinder the auctioning of the premium millimetre-wave 5G bands.

“The NFAP-2018 needs to be revised expeditiously by the WPC to align different stakeholders if a meaningful 5G auction is to happen later this year, and the industry will take up the matter with DoT,” a senior industry executive told ET.

In November 2019, WRC-19 identified a set of new airwaves, including the 24.25-27.5 Ghz (popularly known as the 26 Ghz band), 37-43.5 Ghz, 45.5-47 Ghz, 47.2-48.2 Ghz and 66-71 Ghz bands for 5G services. However, none of these bands (primarily the mm waves) have been included in India’s NFAP.  Note also that ITU-R WP5D has not yet agreed on a revision of ITU-R M.1036  which would include the new frequency arrangements agreed during WRC 19 for terrestrial IMT deployments.

References:

https://www.livemint.com/industry/telecom/industry-ramps-up-supply-chain-for-5g-service-launch-in-21-11609726923530.html

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/telcos-to-push-dot-to-release-new-5g-spectrum-band/80085441

 

 

Economic Times: India’s big bet on 5G in 2021 starts with 5G spectrum auction

Earlier this month K. Ramchand, Member (Technology), India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said that it would soon announce 5G spectrum bands for auction. That’s a clear indication that adopting 5G is now a priority for the government. Most Indian telecom service providers currently lack the financial resources to invest and build a 5G ecosystem, but the government has indicated that it is willing to start the process.

Lt. Gen Dr. S.P. Kochhar, Director General of COAI said:

“5G technology is poised to open up a plethora of possibilities in terms of business models, and overall, enhanced lifestyles for one and all. We seek the support of the government in enabling the industry to play its role as an enabler of horizontal growth and a boost to the nation’s economy. The 5G potential is immense and can turn the game for India and be a catalyst for the government’s campaigns such as Make in India, Digital India, Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

Enterprises are at an inflection point in partnering with companies focusing on technical skills and turnkey solutions to drive efficiencies and building efficient and future-ready networks.

According to Karthik Natarajan, President and COO, Cyient, “We are seeing significant investments in the communication network space. The current digital transformation will lead to enhanced user experience, increased operational efficiency and a competitive edge for the enterprise businesses. Our experience in design, delivery, deployment, migration, and support of network infrastructure globally makes us an ideal partner for 5G rollouts.”

Over the past few years, many global technology companies have set up a manufacturing base in India. Samsung got the nod from the Uttar Pradesh government to make OLED at its Noida factory recently. Though such investments are significant but investment in R&D, semiconductors and future technology need a lot of impetus. The big challenge that India faces in electronics manufacturing is the lack of a world-class semiconductor fabricating unit (FAB). It’s time the government either gets global players to invest in a Fab in India or start the work to build a domestic version.

Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India told Economic Times: “2020 has set the stage for 5G to go mainstream and in 2021 this will also lead to an increase in demand for next-gen 5G smartphones, newer applications and smart devices like smart TVs, tablets, phones integrated with voice interface, etc.  5G  will drive innovation across sectors such as remote working, gaming, healthcare, manufacturing, video, and data consumption which will drive the smart devices ecosystem.”

“This will also lead to an increase in demand for next-gen 5G smartphones, newer applications and smart devices like smart TVs, tablets, phones integrated with voice interface etc,” Jain added. Jain also believes that 2021 will tilt towards improved remote working capabilities and 5G chipsets will take “smartphone and smart device experience to the next level.”

Jain added that pandemic has catalyzed the growth of adoption of transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and cloud computing, among others.  MediaTek envisions a wide range of applications and devices driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) in the 5G era.

The Taiwanese fabless chip maker became the world’s #1 smartphone chipset vendor with a 31% market share in Q3 2020 helped by its growth in regions like India and China, and a strong performance in the $150-200 price band, as per market research firm Counterpoint Research’s estimates.

Last year, MediaTek launched a new gaming-based G-series, while Dimensity chipsets have helped in bringing 5G to affordable categories, according to Counterpoint Research.

It will be interesting and crucial to see how India can attract investments in future technologies with 5G making a tectonic shift in the TMT industry and presenting a range of economic opportunities in the next three to five years.

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5G technology is expected to launch in the latter half of 2021 and will drive new business models, better education, healthcare, enable smart cities, smart manufacturing, among others, said SP Kochhar, director-general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in a statement.  That New Delhi-based group represents Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea as well as telecom gear makers such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and Cisco.

“The Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative will lead to revenue growth to $26.38 billion by 2020 while the number of internet subscribers in the country is expected to double by 2021 to 829 million, and overall IP traffic is expected to grow four times at a CAGR of 30% by 2021,” he added.

In the first quarter of this fiscal year through June, customer spending on voice and data services increased 16.6% year-on-year, amounting to Rs. 35,642 crore ($4.80 billion), on account of use of OTT platforms for voice communications, chat, online meetings, webinars, among others, Kochhar further said.

India plans to auction 2,251 MHz with a total valuation of Rs 3.92 trillion in March 2021. It will sell spectrum in 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands which couldfetch Rs 55,000 – 60,000 crore to the exchequer and even at this participation, the industry will have to shelve out around Rs. 20,000-25,000 crore upfront, ICRA had said in a statement.

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References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india-bets-big-on-5g-in-2021/79989257

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/5g-to-become-mainstream-in-2021-drive-smart-devices-ecosystem-mediateks-anku-jain/79987062

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/telecom/telecom-news/cabinet-likely-to-consider-dots-spectrum-auction-proposal-at-wednesday-meeting/articleshow/79750666.cms

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/5g-launch-likely-in-h2-2021-telco-group/79987664

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/12/25/counterpoint-research-mediatek-is-worlds-1-smartphone-chipset-vendor/

 

Reliance Jio may deploy 5G SA while Bharti Airtel to trial both 5G NSA and SA

Reliance Jio may launch its much touted 5G services using the next generation 5G standalone (GSMA Option 2) architecture for its network, Business Standard reported.

The telco may skip the current non-standalone 5G. The NSA 5G architecture enables operators to leverage their existing investments in their 4G LTE networks and reduce capital costs.  Mukesh Ambani recently said that Jio intends to roll-out 5G services in India in the second half of 2021.

Reliance Jio's Made-in-India 5G Solution Could Spell The End Of Huawei's Global 5G Ambitions

Image Credit:  Reliance Jio

Conversely, Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel said that 5G will take 2-3 years to reach mass scale in India’s market.  Nonetheless, Airtel recently applied for both NSA and SA 5G trials to test its network architecture.

“Even though the majority of countries are offering 5G using NSA, SA is also being used for 5G services. Airtel feels it’s a good time to test its network using both modes,” a person familiar with the development told ETTelecom.

Airtel is planning to do Standalone 5G trials in Karnataka and Kolkata using Nokia and Ericsson 5G gear, respectively. In both circles, ZTE and Huawei currently power the Sunil Mittal-led telco’s 4G network.

Non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) are two 5G tracks that communication service providers can opt for when transitioning from 4G to the next-generation mobile technology. In NSA, the existing 4G LTE network is used for everything except the 5G data plane, which is usually based on 3GPP Release 15 version of 5G NR.  5G NSA enables operators to leverage their existing investments in their 4G LTE networks and reduce capital costs, but it can’t support new 5G features such as network slicing.

Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and BSNL recently submitted a list of “preferred vendors” which includes European and American companies for 5G field trials with the telecom department (DoT).

Jio had submitted fresh applications for 5G trials with Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, and for its own 5G technology. The largest Indian telco recently submitted an application trial of its own 5G technology in South Mumbai and Navi Mumbai areas, while it intends to do trials with Samsung in other areas like Bandra Kurla complex, Kamothe Navi Mumbai, and Solapur with Maharashtra.

Jio intends to 5G trials with Nokia in Pune and Ahmednagar, and with Ericsson in Delhi areas like Chandani chowk and Shashtri Nagar and in Dabwali in Haryana.

References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/jio-may-launch-5g-using-standalone-architecture-airtel-to-test-both-sa-and-nsa-5g/79832720

https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/reliance-jio-to-go-for-next-generation-network-architecture-for-5g-120122100020_1.html

Ambani: Reliance Jio to deploy 5G network in second half of 2021

India’s Telco and Infrastructure Groups: Fiber Optic Network Growth Essential

Growth in fiber optic network deployments are essential to further improve the quality of telecom services and support the surging mobile Internet demand as well as have potential to bring substantial social and economic benefits to consumers, businesses and state governments, India’s telco and infrastructure groups said.  The Delhi-based telecom body represents Reliance JioBharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

“Growth of fibre is the foremost priority for the ongoing exponential increase in data demand and improved quality of services,” the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director-general SP Kochhar told ETTelecom.

Currently, India has an optical fiber-based network spanning across 28 lakh (100,000) kilometres as against the target set up by the National Broadband Mission to deploy as much as 50 lakh kilometres of optical fiber by 2024.

Kochhar’s views were seconded by the Towers and Infrastructure Providers Association (Taipa) that lobbies for companies such as Bharti Infratel, American Tower Corporation (ATC) India, Ascend Telecom Infrastructure, Indus Towers and Sterlite Technologies.

“The fiberisation of existing telecom infrastructure has the potential to bring substantial social and economic benefits to governments, citizens and businesses through an increase in productivity, competitiveness, improvements in service delivery, and optimal use of scarce resources like spectrum,” Tilak Raj Dua, director-general at Taipa said.

Editor’s Note:

The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is a project initiated in 2011 and funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund to provide broadband connectivity to over 200,000 gram panchayats of India at an initial cost of ₹200 billion (US$2.8 billion).  This is to be achieved utilizing the existing optical fiber and extending it to the Gram Panchayats and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), is a special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), PSU set up under companies act by Govt of India under Rule 1956 has been registered on Feb 25, 2012 for management and Operation of NOFN.  More info at: http://www.bbnl.nic.in/index1.aspx?lsid=13&lev=1&lid=13&langid=1

Info) Indian Railways Optical Fiber Network Map by Railtel | RRB EXAM PORTAL - Railway Jobs, NTPC, ALP, ASM Exam Community

     Indian Railways Fiber Optic Network Map

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The pan India average of fiber to the tower ratio presently stands at 32% as against the target of 70% by 2024, envisaged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), according to Taipa statistics.

Following the progression in the fourth-generation (4G) network deployments over the last couple of years, and the upcoming fifth-generation (5G) cellular technology, experts caution that low fiberization would eventually impact the service delivery, and a uniform policy across the country is much needed.

“In the last four years we have not had an increase in backhaul spectrum, hence, we are dealing with constrained factors and have to manage the quality of services based on existing capacity, for everybody’s good,” Kochhar said.

Coai said that the increased fiberization would meet the present requirement of bandwidth and future technologies such as 5G, and other emerging technologies,” Kochhar said and added that the early allocation of E and V bands to meet the backhaul requirements is also being considered by the government.

Dua further said that in order to address the increased data consumption in rural and urban areas and remote working following the Covid-19 outbreak, the role of fiberisation to propel digitalisation has increased multifold.

India, according to Crisil needs a tectonic shift in the fiberization landscape, and investment in fiberised backhaul infrastructure providing unlimited capacity and higher data speeds has to gain further traction if 5G has to become a reality.

Sandeep Aggarwal, co-chairman of the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (Tepc) believes that it is imperative to have a robust fibre infrastructure in the country to complement the next-generation or 4G and 5G technologies in line with the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) unveiled in 2018.

Former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh-headed Tepc represents Aksh Optifibre, Birla Cables, Paramount Wires & Cables, Himachal Futuristic Communications, Finolex Cables and Polycab Wires.

“With nearly 3 million kilometres of optic fibre cable (OFC) presently deployed, India will need to further enhance the footprint with an average of 2-kilometre of fibre per person,” Aggarwal said and added that more than 1 million kilometres of cable TV (CATV) fibre has been laid over the last one year in the country.

Private and public sector entities such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and RailTel majorly contribute to the current fibre footprint in the country in addition to Centre’s ambitious BharatNet program that further aims to deploy nearly 8 lakh kilometres of fibre network separately.

There is a need to adopt new business models such as hiving off fibre assets via the Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT) model that will help in reducing capital expense requirements and allowing telecom operators to focus on topline growth opportunities, according to Aggarwal.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio and Sunil Mittal-driven Bharti Airtel have already sold-off their fiber verticals to become financially-nimble pure-play telecom services companies.

Taipa’s Dua feels that the upcoming cities would be built on the basis of readily available optical fiber cables, and next-generation telecom infrastructure and technologies like 5G.

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References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/fiber-deployment-critical-for-quality-of-service-economic-benefits-telecom-infrastructure-companies/79208500

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/5g-is-very-much-dependent-on-fiberization-airtel-cto-randeep-sekhon/78444072

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/preparing-for-the-future-how-fiber-networks-will-support-growing-telecom-demand/78632667

ICRA: Indian Telecom Industry Must Migrate from Copper to Dense Fiber Optic Networks