The recently reported findings of an Indian parliamentary panel on information technology have indicated that not enough has been done to prepare for 5G rollout.
The findings, widely reported in the Indian business press, go as far as to say that India is entirely unprepared to roll out 5G telecom services, referring, apparently, to a ‘laidback approach to the launch of the technology.
This is despite claims in late January from telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad that the test bed for next generation technology was ready, that the country would be using indigenously made telecom equipment and that the government would soon grant a permit for the 5G trials.
Officially, the aim is for 5G trials to start soon and actual rollout to take place across metropolitan cities by early 2022. The parliamentary committee didn’t sound so sure, and pointed to India’s slow rollout of 2G, 3G and 4G – from four to ten years later than many other countries.
It is certainly the case that 5G spectrum auctions have yet to take place (the precise date for such auctions has still not been announced). Earlier deadlines for 5G trials and rollout were missed due, in part, to a tussle over spectrum involving the defence ministry and the space department.
The report apparently cited inadequate availability of spectrum, high spectrum prices, poor development of use cases, low status of fiberisation, non-uniform right of way (RoW) issues, and deficient backhaul capacity among the hurdles slowing down 5G rollout. Of this long list RoW could undoubtedly be one of the most problematic given the number of towers and masts 5G will require.