India includes 100 new 5G labs in its 2023 budget

india 5G labs
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India said that it will set up 100 labs for developing applications using 5G services in various engineering institutions across the country, along with three Centres of Excellence for artificial intelligence (AI).

The focus of these labs is to develop business models around 5G and explore employment potential, India Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman said during her Budget 2023 speech.

She said that the labs would cover applications such as smart classrooms, precision farming, intelligent transport systems, and healthcare, among others.

The announcement comes as Indian telecom service providers Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are expanding their 5G networks across the country.

Jio, the country’s largest telecom services provider, has already introduced 5G services to 225 cities across India, and plans to cover the whole country by December 2023. Bharti Airtel has launched 5G services in over 30 cities, and claims it has connected over 1 million users within a month of launch.

COAI welcomes ‘progressive steps’ to drive 5G

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) welcomed the announcement. COAI director general Lt. Gen. Dr. S.P. Kochhar said the 5G labs and AI centers of excellence “are progressive steps and would help fuel the proliferation of 5G and its ecosystem in the country.”

Peeyush Vaish, Partner and Telecom sector leader at Deloitte India, said that the proposed outlay for 5G labs will further push the development of use cases and the setup of private networks in India: “Healthcare and education are amongst the most important sectors in India, and the research across universities will push innovations and job opportunities.”

The 5G labs are expected to create a platform where startups, telecom firms and technology firms will collaborate and develop end-to-end solutions and use cases for industries. This will fast track the adoption of 5G technology in many sectors, said Manpreet Singh Ahuja, Partner & Leader TMT at PwC India.

“By promoting an AI ecosystem, 5G labs and setting-up skill centres for emerging technologies, India will get the interdisciplinary R&D boost,” said Ahuja.

India bets big on enterprise 5G

Indian telcos are betting big on 5G to drive enterprise revenues, as around 40% of 5G revenues are expected to come from enterprise use case deployments.

Airtel recently launched a program for enterprises, and is collaborating with several companies such as TechMahindra, Accenture and Apollo Hospitals to develop 5G use cases. Airtel also recently launched India’s first commercial private 5G network in partnership with Tech Mahindra at Mahindra’s Chakan automobile manufacturing facility.

“We believe 5G will have country specific use cases and India is no different,” Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint Market Research, told Indian media. “In fact, India can set an example for the rest of the world in unlocking billions of dollars in value from a next gen tech as effective as 5G.”

Related article: Tata Group makes moves to capitalize on private 5G

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