Telecom gear maker Nokia is looking at India to drive its 5G-Advanced and 6G standardization efforts globally through its research arm, Bell Labs.
Nokia is reportedly increasing its investments in Bell Labs’ local presence and is currently working on developing “competence” and “people” to drive its efforts around 6G development and standardization.
“We find that the competence in India is severely underestimated in terms of what they can deliver to us,” Nokia’s chief technology and strategy officer Nishant Batra was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. “So we are increasing peer resources, including for global standardization, because we feel we can drive a lot of 5G-Advanced standards and 6G standards coming out of India competence.”
Nokia’s efforts come months after India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) formed six academia-driven task forces under the Technology Innovation Group (TIG) on 6G technology. The DoT mandated these task forces to map 6G activities and capabilities worldwide, as well as spectrum policy, multi-disciplinary innovative solutions, devices and a multi-platform for next-generation networks.
The DoT believes 6G will bring terrestrial and satellite communication networks together, resulting in nationwide mobile and broadband connectivity. That convergence will also help in bridging the digital divide in the country.
Indian telecom operators have already expressed their keenness to work with the Indian government and academia for 6G development. They are of the view that an early start into local 6G development will result in intellectual property creation for the Indian telecom ecosystem.
Nokia’s Batra said that India is ready for a large-scale commercial launch of 5G services, which among other things would drive 5G smartphone prices down.
“If you only had launched 5G 18 months ago, with the device price points where they were, only a very select few would have benefited. That is not what India is about. So, absolutely India has not missed the bus. It is important that the plan from here on is robust,” Batra said.
However, he added, if India delays 5G further, it would reduce the scope for returns on telcos’ investments.
“The biggest value of 5G is creating innovation on top [of the network]. And those innovations will get delayed. It’s not like suddenly everybody will have a 5G smartphone [and] a 5G subscription. Don’t delay it. And the innovation that India needs will come from India. So please get the platform ready for 5G.”
The Indian government is currently expected to auction 5G spectrum before the end of June this year. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recently recommended reducing in the base price of mid-band 5G spectrum (3.3-3.67 GHz) by nearly 36%. However, private telecom operators have said the base price is still way too expensive.