Is India’s infrastructure ready for 5G rollout?

Is India’s infrastructure ready for 5G rollout?

With 5G rollout well under way in much of the country, an Indian industry group has suggested that most telecom towers still need fiberisation, a vast number still need to be deployed and that recent amended Right of Way (RoW) rules are not being met by some Indian states.

According to TR Dua, Director-General of the Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA), in order to meet the growing demand for large bandwidth and ultra-low latency that 5G implies, 65 per cent of telecom towers still need to be fiberised and another 1,200,000 towers need to be deployed by the 2023-24 financial year. 

For infrastructure deployment to facilitate 5G services in the country various other requirements need to be met, DIPA suggests, including Right of Way facilitation, access to street furniture (particularly for small cells), fibre and backhaul deployment and high densification of infrastructure.

As we reported at the time, in 2022 RoW application procedures for small cells were simplified as a response to the likelihood that 5G would require many more small cells and much more use of street furniture. The government also introduced a centralised RoW portal that offers a single interface for ISPs, mobile operators and infrastructure providers to apply for RoW approvals for installing infrastructure.

According to India’s Economic Times, however, only a few states, including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Sikkim, Tripura, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Assam and Ladakh, have aligned their state policy with the Indian Telegraph Right of Way – Amendment Rules, 2022.

That said, notwithstanding DIPA’s concerns, both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel seem to be forging ahead with 5G rollout – for now.

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