Govt to create Rs 500-cr fund for R&D in 5G

As India aims to become a leader in 5G, the government is working on to create a Rs 500-crore fund for development of the technology and it has also created a high-level committee to work on a roadmap for the roll-out of 5G by 2020.

As per officials, India doesn't want to miss the opportunity this time like in case of 2G and 3G, where it lagged behind other countries. For 5G, India wants to become a leader and have its own standards and IPR that will become part of the 5G global standards.

"We want to make sure that standard essential patents, among other things, also have an Indian IPR," Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told Business Standard.

India is looking at 5G technology as a major opportunity in terms of offering services tailored for rural India like telehealth, tele-education and bandwidth-heavy applications that can drive development in these regions. The 5G technology is expected to play a big role in this regard.

"We have created a high-level 5G committee that will work on the vision, mission and goals related to the building of a 5G network. When the world will roll out 5G in 2020, I believe India will be at par with them," Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said.

According to the government, 5G provides an opportunity to the domestic industry to reach out to global markets and consumers to gain with the economics of scale.

The Secretary further said areas like the internet of things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine-to-machine communications (M2M) are going to be critically dependent on 5G. "Since India is already looking at all these areas and has significant software capabilities already (5G will be software driven), it wants to position itself as a leader in 5G, which is why we are beginning this work right now," she added.

The committee or forum will primarily look at three things. First, the committee will look at developing use case scenarios because the industry needs to be prepared in terms of knowing how to use 5G technology and where it will be deployed, among other things. These areas need to be defined.

Second, the forum will work on a roadmap on how to get the ecosystem ready like the various device manufacturers, platform providers, various tools and technology providers-- all of that has to be ready.

The third thing the committee will look into is the regulatory work which is also going to be involved like what is the spectrum band for 5G; how can it be made affordable; what kinds of regulations need to be changed and what security standards have to be applied.

The work of the committee will start immediately; the report has to be submitted over a period of 6-9 months.

"India wants to make sure that its internal requirements are met and also to make sure that Indian design and IPR gets into a lot of the 5G work," the Secretary said.

Asked what could be the price of 5G devices in India, Sundararajan said, "India is lowest in terms of data cost, voice cost and device cost because India is a price sensitive market. I presume that the manufacturers will keep that in mind. It's difficult to put a number upfront but the way prices are going, I think it should be competitive."

The committee will have secretaries from Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the Department of science and technology (DST), Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity), IITs, the Indian Institute of Science, IT industry, professors and eminent people.

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