Panel on 5G road map sees $1 trillion impact on economy – What high-powered committee said

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New Delhi | Updated: August 23, 2018 10:34:54 PM

A high-powered committee on India's 5G road map today said the advent of next-generation wireless services may unleash USD 1 trillion economic opportunity for the country, and suggested that the government announce spectrum allocation and related policy by the year end.

5G road map, 5G network,  Aruna Sundararajan, allocation of 5G spectrum, COAI, GDP, spectrum allocation, Telecom spectrumFor WiFi, it has favoured opening additional bands of unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band for outdoor use. (Reuters)

A high-powered committee on India’s 5G road map today said the advent of next-generation wireless services may unleash USD 1 trillion economic opportunity for the country, and suggested that the government announce spectrum allocation and related policy by the year end. The committee chaired by AJ Paulraj, Professor, Stanford University, has identified and recommended specific bands for 5G spectrum allocation but cautioned that India needs to “correct” certain anomalies related to high cost of spectrum and that the quantum of spectrum allocation itself “needs a big fillip”.

In its report submitted to Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, the panel has recommended phase-wise allocation of 5G spectrum including 405 Mhz (readily-available) and additional 137 Mhz (involving further studies) of sub 4 GHz radiowaves, and 5.25 GHz along with 8.3 GHz of sub 45 GHz category. Back-of-the envelop calculation put the quantum of 5G spectrum which can be made available immediately, at nearly 5600 MHz.

For WiFi, it has favoured opening additional bands of unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band for outdoor use. “The government may announce its spectrum policy by December 31, 2018 and issue the necessary notifications,” the report said. Paulraj said he expected the 5G commercial roll out in India to happen around 2020, a timeline that industry body COAI too endorses. Emphasising the need for a supportive spectrum policy given the criticality of 5G networks for India, the report said that India’s quantum of spectrum allocation “needs a big fillip”.

“Further, the cost of spectrum, relative to per capita GDP, is much higher than most countries. Both these factors drive up infrastructure costs. Also, in recent years, the high cost of spectrum has left large quantities of unsold spectrum. It is important that India correct these anomalies in 5G,” the report said. The panel gave wide-ranging recommendations to power India’s 5G aspirations in areas like spectrum policy, regulatory policy, education and standards, and said that the economic impact of 5G is expected to be over 1 trillion dollars.

“The cumulative economic impact of 5G on India can reach one trillion USD by 2035,” the report said. In another section, the report noted that India will make large investments (estimated at USD 100 billion) over next 5-7 years to create nationwide 5G infrastructure. The steering committee has also mooted constitution of panel with a five-year term that can advise on building spectrum technology infrastructure for India. It has also batted for creation of a 5G implementation and oversight committee with the participation from Government, academia, industry. It has further asked the Government to appoint an expert committee to carry out 5G initiative.

On the regulatory side, it has suggested appointment of an expert committee for business enablement, security and privacy for smart infrastructure. “Guidelines on regulatory matters may be promulgated by October 2019 to facilitate early 5G deployment,” the report said.  “5G is a massive new opportunity…it can be leveraged for major societal transformation,” Paulraj told reporters here.

He added that 5G road map pursued by India should not only move the country forward but also result in progress of weaker sections of society. When contacted, COAI director general, Rajan Mathews said that identification of particular spectrum bands will be helpful in getting India 5G ready. “Preliminary calculations indicate that each of operator will require at least 600 Mhz of spectrum for various 5G applications,” Mathews said.

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