The Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expected to shortly approve the applications of a number of operators for 5G trials. However, it is also expected to block the involvement of Chinese kit makers.
This could be a problem for Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, whose list of 5G trial partners includes Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE. Reliance Jio, meanwhile, will only be allowed to conduct trials with Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung. It also plans to carry out independent trials.
This move was probably inevitable after last month’s government ruling barring companies that are based in countries sharing a common border with India from taking part in any government procurement and contracts. Ongoing ill-feeing between China and India clearly hasn’t helped either.
On a slightly more upbeat note, the DoT has simplified the testing method for 5G wireless products in laboratories; spectrum is now available for demonstration purposes at a set charge, getting rid of an elaborate approval process. Now, for about $671 million a year, stakeholders can get a license for any amount of spectrum for doing tests in a non-interference mode.
The Indian press suggests that the telecommunications industry is finding it hard to develop India-specific use cases, leading to uncertainty over the adoption of next-generation technology.
However, the allegedly overpriced 5G spectrum, continual delays to the 5G spectrum auctions, the financial stress and losses suffered by many operators and now limited vendor choice may also be playing a part.