6G technology development and deployment in India : News & Discussion

RISING SUN

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Dec 3, 2017
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India to become a leader in 6G:

While speaking at the Conclave, the minister said India should aspire big. Acknowledging, India lost out the race in 2G and 3G because of the various reasons and mostly the political will was not there. With 4G, India has caught up. With 5G, India should be able to stand up with the word. "But with 6G, the Prime Minister has given us the clear mandate that we should become the leaders in the world."

 

Indigenous 6G: can India pull it off?​

India is planning to launch a nationally-developed 6G network, despite falling behind in its 5G network rollout. But don’t count it out just yet.

India’s road to 5G has been a bumpy one. In 2018, the country’s Department of Communications laid out a roadmap in its National Digital Communications Policy for a 5G rollout by 2022. Following delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Commercial 5G services are now expected later this year or in early 2023.

Despite the delay, the Indian government is still hoping to launch a nationally-developed 6G network by the end of the same year. These almost simultaneous ambitions encompass the government’s push to encourage digital transformation through nationally-developed technology as countries elsewhere begin to view power and national security interests through the lens of technological development.

In November 2021, India’s Department of Telecommunications (DOT) announced the formation of a 22-member technology innovation group to develop indigenous 6G technology. Not long after the DOT’s announcement, India’s Minister of Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw announced that 6G development had already started. “We will have designed-in-India telecom software for running the networks, manufactured-in-India telecom equipment, served-in-India telecom networks, which can go global,” he said.

The development of India’s local 5G standard — dubbed “5Gi” — demonstrates India’s capability to contribute to global technical standards.

5Gi spurred controversy with domestic telecom operators and equipment vendors opposing its mandatory adoption, due to interoperability and cost issues. This was despite lower deployment costs designed to encourage rural adoption. However, compromise has now been reached on 5Gi – merging it with the global 5G standard. Spectrum auctions scheduled for later this year, will set the stage for commercial rollouts.

Local telecom operator Reliance Jio has also broken new ground by developing its own 5G network equipment and software solutions through joint ventures, paving the way for a similar model being employed in a future 6G rollout.

It is as yet unclear how 6G will be used. But more recently, India’s Minister of State for Communications, Devusinh Chauhan, said the country aspires to take a leadership position in 6G, and contribute to global technical standards. This could be driven in part by Prime Minister Modi’s broader vision for a self-reliant India — “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” — as well as the government’s “Make in India” and “Digital India” initiatives.

India’s stated timeline for 6G seems unrealistic. Key standard-setting bodies like the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) will only begin defining global 6G technical standards from next year.

A significant challenge for India’s ambitions also lies in producing intellectual property (IP). Countries that produce high-quality IP often have the ability to shape how a technology is eventually developed and applied. India did not feature in a 2021 study by the Tokyo-based research company Cyber Creative of 6G patent applications by country.

China topped the list with 40.3 percent of total patents, followed by the United States with 35.2 percent. Although patent filings alone do not guarantee ‘success’ in a particular technology, they provide a broad indicator of where technology development is occurring.

If India is to realise its desire of taking a leadership position in 6G, it will have to significantly ramp up its production of high-quality IP. This will require investment in its research institutions across the public and private sectors, which currently lack resources compared to other major economies, a result of years of unmet promises.

India spent only 0.7 percent of its GDP on research and development in 2020, compared to 2.41 percent in China and 2.32 percent for the European Union. It will be challenging to bridge such a gap in a short period of time, although this certainly does not preclude significant progress from being made.

The road ahead is not without obstacles. The government will have to translate its techno-nationalist vision into regulations and investments to facilitate impactful research and applications. It will have to draw on past successes — such as with its national space programme — and apply the lessons learned.

India’s space programme is widely admired for its low cost and success in bringing together public and private research institutions. The technical capabilities in India’s research institutions and telecom companies will have to be similarly harnessed through suitable public-private partnership models for India to successfully develop its own 6G network.
Indigenous 6G: can India pull it off?
 

Jio partners with University of Oulu over development of 6G technology​

Reliance Jio’s Estonia unit, (Jio Estonia OÜ) is partnering with the University of Oulu for exploring 6G, the upcoming next generation of telecom technology after 5G. According to an official announcement by the company, 6G is supposed to build on the capabilities of 5G and will have higher capacities and will bring new advancements. It should be noted that in India, Jio like other telecom players, is carrying out 5G testing. The commercial rollout for 5G is yet to begin in the country.

According to the company, the partnership with the university will foster entrepreneurship by bringing together expertise from both industry and academia in the field of aerial and space communication, holographic beamforming, 3D connected intelligence in cybersecurity, microelectronics, and photonics (the science of light waves).

Jio is hoping the efforts will help create 6G-enabled products in the field of defence, automotive, industrial machinery, consumer goods, and experiences such as urban computing and autonomous traffic settings.

“We are delighted to deepen our collaboration with Jio Estonia As the leader of the world’s first major 6G research programme, the University of Oulu focuses on wireless communications leading to 6G technologies. We are looking forward to collaborating with Jio Estonia and the entire Reliance Group on targeted research initiatives that will enable future wireless end-to-end solutions for a wide range of end-user requirements,” Professor Matti Latva-aho, Director of the 6G Flagship said in a press statement.

“Jio has more than 400 million subscribers in India, and their experience shows that building capacity to transmit large amounts of data is becoming critical. Especially given the development of digital services and virtual worlds. With this collaboration with the University of Oulu, we can make sure that we keep growing and developing as a world region of the future,” Taavi Kotka, CEO of Jio Estonia said.

“6G promises to build upon 5G capabilities to deeply integrate technology as a digital twin in our daily lives. Early investments in 6G research and capabilities with the University of Oulu can complement Jio Lab’s capabilities in 5G and bring 6G to life,” Aayush Bhatnagar, Senior Vice President of Jio Platforms said.

Previously, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister for Communications had said that India is working towards an indigenously developed 6G technology with the aim to launch it either by 2023-end or early 2024. He stressed that India would have software, telecom equipment designed in the country to run the next generation of 6G networks.