India is looking to become a global 5G innovation hub by offering affordable and practical use cases, a senior government official said on Tuesday. Through the 5G hackathon project, the country is now bringing together IT companies, startups, vertical industries, academia and telecom companies to develop 5G use cases for the masses.
On Tuesday, India finalised 100 5G use cases under its 5G hackathon project. It received over 1,024 applications in the last 6 months under phase one.
Interestingly, India has yet to allow telecom operators and gear vendors to start 5G field trials having received multiple applications in the last year. Indian telcos through their representative body, COAI, urged the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to clear 5G applications last week at the crucial spectrum roadmap meeting which was attended by telecom regulator, TRAI.
“We want 5G not merely because it’s a new technology….enhanced mobile broadband is important, it will help us, our communication will become better, our messaging will become faster, but the real challenge of this technology is how to apply 5G’s technology benefits for the betterment of India, Indians, and for the globe, because India can become a hub of 5G applications,” India’s telecom secretary Anshu Prakash said at the “5G Hackathon” virtual event.
Selected companies will be provided with financial aid and access to existing testbeds for these 100 5G use cases for commercial applicability. India has spent Rs 240 crore ($32.43 million) to set up 5G testbeds at five IITs with 200 researchers.
The DoT had roped in executives from global and domestic technology companies, telecom operators, government officials, and directors of Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) to finalise these 5G use cases.
The DoT said that it approved the highest (24) 5G use cases in the domain of healthcare, education and governance category, followed by agriculture technology and livestock segment (18), and environment public safety & disaster management (13).
“India can take the lead in linking innovations with inter-sectoral use-cases which is a unique feature of 5G…India should also strive to be the first in making 5G beneficial for the poor and the masses, and not just for the rich and fancy,” Prakash said.
He said that India could certainly be the first country globally to use 5G for public good. “…we can certainly be the first in coming out with 5G innovations and affordable 5G based solutions to solve everyday problems.”
Currently, India just has just 175 MHz spectrum available for 5G services with a cap of 50 MHz per telecom operator. India has four telecom operators, which means all players may not be able to get even 50MHz.
Indian telecom operators have sought at least 80 MHz of spectrum in the mid-band, which the government identified for 5G services in the first phase of rollout. Industry analysts said that ideally, every telecom operator must get 100 MHz spectrum blocks to build an efficient 5G network in line with global 5G networks.