Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that government would soon grant permits for 5G trials and urged the use of Indian core equipment

5G has been a long time coming in India and the wait is not over yet. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had originally planned to allow the commencement of 5G trials in 2019, with commercial rollout of the technology in 2020. However, delays to the process have been extensive, especially surrounding the specifics of the 5G spectrum auction itself, with the operators decrying the high reserve prices and even threatening not to bid.

Currently, the DoT has not announced specific dates for the 5G auction, only saying that it will take place in the coming year. Their current focus, it seems, is on the 4G spectrum auction currently planned for March. 

Nonetheless, the country’s operators have been announcing their readiness for the new technology for some time. Just yesterday, Bharti Airtel announced successful 5G tests over a commercial network, saying they were ready to rollout 5G in India as soon as the spectrum is available. Similarly, Reliance Jio has said in the past that it is targeting the second half of 2021 for the rollout of 5G, using home-grown technology that it has developed.

Now, India’s communications and IT minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, is urging Indian telcos to make use of domestic telecoms equipment providers, especially for the core.

"We lagged behind in 2G, 3G and 4G but in 5G India should move at a speed faster than the world with made in India 5G. We have made a test bed and we are soon going to permit it," said Prasad, speaking at a National Informatics Center Services Incorporated event yesterday. “Core of the network should be Indian.”

A major driving force here appears to be security. Relations between India and China have been strained over the last year, and fears of national security have led to a divergence from Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE, especially when it comes to the sensitive core technology. Home grown telecoms suppliers could be the ideal solution to this issue, though whether the technology can match the standards of more traditional vendors remains to be seen.


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