Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the country is on track to deploy domestically developed 6G by 2030, despite still not having launched 5G services

This week, the Indian government has outlined plans to see domestically developed 6G deployed by 2030, with Prime Minister Modi saying that the country would accelerate its technological development to match those international rivals. 

Speaking at Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) event this week, Modi announced that work on 6G was already underway, having created an industry taskforce to focus on the new technology.

Like many other nations around the world, India’s focus on 6G is nothing new. Back in November, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) announced the formation of an Indian working group to develop homegrown solutions.

“We will have designed-in-India telecom software for running the networks, manufactured-in-India telecom equipment, served-in-India telecom networks, which can go global,” said Minister of Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw.

India is currently in the process of developing its own 5G standard, known as 5Gi, using domestically produced hardware and software, and will seek to do the same for 6G. India’s largest mobile operator, Reliance Jio, is already developing its own 5G network equipment andd software.

Modi said that in advancing to 6G development the country would seek to avoid the mistakes of the past, saying that the 2G era had been characterised by “corruption and policy paralysis”. According to Modi, the telecoms industry and regulatory environment has since greatly improved, growing more transparent and more effective, thereby making the 2030 deadline achievable.

This target is particularly ambitious when we consider that India has yet to launch commercial 5G services, with the operators currently conducting 5G trials using temporary spectrum. The nation’s initial 5G spectrum auction has proved highly contentious, with the operators clashing with telecoms regulators over what they consider extravagantly high reserve prices for the spectrum. Couple this with the onset of the pandemic and India has seen its 5G spectrum auction delayed for almost two years now.

Last month, Minister Vaishnaw said he was hopeful that the auction would take place as early as June, but no formal deadline has been announced, with sources suggesting it is more likely to take place in August at the earliest or even as late as 2023. 

In his speech, Modi said that the advent of 5G in India would “contribute $450 billion to the Indian economy”, boosting the country’s economic development and creating new jobs. The technology is expected to have major benefits for numerous sectors within the country, including healthcare, education, and agriculture.

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