India 5G infrastructure plan calls for 800k new towers by 2024

5G towers
Image by Siberian Art | Bigstockphoto

India is reportedly devising a plan to create a robust fiber-powered infrastructure for high-speed 5G with plans to add as many as 800,000 new mobile towers over the next two years.

The government will soon start consultations with stakeholders to plan a strategy for faster fiberization.

The authorities have been discussing the plan with the Prime Minister’s Officer (PMO), according to a report by the Times of India. There are talks to set up a National Fibre Authority (NFA) on the lines of other regulatory authorities to give a push to fiberization in the country.

The government is aiming to deploy a “vastly-connected digital ecosystem” that can support technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality, autonomous driving and smart home solutions.

Under the plan, the government plans to ensure that nearly three out of four towers are connected through optical fiber to increase their data-carrying capacity.

The newspaper, citing sources, reported that the Indian government is aiming to ensure “adequate enablers” to support the growth of digital infrastructure as the internet becomes central to a variety of tasks.

“The pandemic has shown how digital has become the backbone of our economy, aiding businesses and offices, education and entertainment from home,” government sources told the publication.

By March 2024, the government is aiming to expand the number of towers from 680,000 now to 1.5 million, increasing tower density from 0. 4/1,000 population to 1/1,000 population, with 70% of them connected with fiber (compared to 34% now).

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is currently holding consultations with industry stakeholders on price recommendations for 5G spectrum across various bands including the mid-band or C-band and mmWave bands.

Industry stakeholders have time till 24 January to send in their comments and recommendations on allocation and pricing of 5G spectrum across bands.

The auctions, which have already been pushed back multiple times, could happen by June 2022. Indian telecom operators will start 5G services using spectrum in the C-band initially.

Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have started preparations for 5G deployment and are currently conducting field trials to test various use cases.

Jio has claimed to have completed 5G coverage planning for 1,000 top cities based on targeted customer consumption and revenue potential.

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