The Chronicles of 5G deployment in India : News and Updates

Gautam

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BSNL has strted 4G services inside the Atal Tunnel/Rohtang Tunnel. But how ? They didn't have 4G. They were trialing out Tech Mahindra's 4G network near Mumbai. Is this the first real world deployment ?


Department of Space(DoS) doesn't want to give up mmWave spectrum for telco usage. This is the primary hurdle now, not sure how to solve it though :


And Nokia and Ericsson want to make 5G gear for Airtel in India. It seems Samsung is not the only vendor facing the heat :

Airtel says Nokia, Ericsson promised to provide locally made 5G gear

Bharti Airtel said that European vendors Nokia and Ericsson have given commitment to the telco to make 5G network equipment in India, allowing local telecom operators to source network elements locally and contribute towards building the economy.

By Danish Khan
ET Telecom
Updated: September 18, 2020, 16:46 IST
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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel said that European vendors Nokia and Ericsson have given commitment to the telco to make 5G network equipment in India, allowing local telecom operators to source network elements locally and contribute towards building the economy.

“The self-reliant vision of the country is key to the whole economy. Telcos’ role is very important or reliable service is very important, and I think telco should partner with the government of India in creating a Digital India,” Randeep Sekhon, CTO of Bharti Airtel said during a fireside session at the ETTelecom Digital Telco Virtual Summit 2020.

Sekhon said that its two partners Ericsson and Nokia will supply radio, core and transport equipment through their local factories in India. “They have promised to us that 5G also will be made here, which means in some way telcos are also contributing to the economy of the country by consuming something which is made here,” he added.

Airtel also works with Chinese gear vendors Huawei and ZTE in India for select circles. However, both Chinese vendors import their gear from other markets. Airtel is reducing its dependence on Chinese vendors, especially Huawei. It has already replaced Huawei in Rajasthan circle with Ericsson gear and is now in a process to do the same in Rest of Tamil Nadu circle.

Sekhon said that Airtel is already deploying 5G-ready technology in its wireless and backhaul networks. “A robust transport network is needed. 5G will need backhaul, which will be much larger than the backhaul of a 4G site needs because of the sheer spectrum 5G brings in. Backhaul readiness is what Airtel is doing.”

The executive also said that spectrum in E-band and V-band will be key to 5G backhaul in India, adding that the government will have to allow these bands at the earliest. For 5G, he said that huge investments will be required in terms of capex, including radio, core and transport. Sekhon revealed that Airtel is making a lot of efforts in “core and transport domains” to bring automation in time before 5G technology becomes a commercial reality in India.

“We are investing in tools, which are very easily portable to 5G. Similarly, the investments we make on the infrastructure side are 5G ready, we just will have to do commercial 5G licensing when we come to that,” he added. He emphasized about developing business-to-business (B2B) use cases in India around the 5G technology. “B2B use cases are something another challenge because it is not like a service. It's not like a broadband, you can go buy, put it the same in your phone and start using it. B2B use cases will have to be built by the industry.”

He said that industrial 4.0 revolution will be the “killer application” which 5G will enable. 5G will power smart factories allowing automation to work seamlessly with the help of higher bandwidth and ultra-low latency. “5G will find use cases where the latency requirement is low and the bandwidth requirement is high. There will be private 5G networks,” he said.

During the session, the executive said that Bharti Airtel supports OpenRAN technology as it allows efficiencies in the telecom network, and will allow the telco to further innovate. “OpenRAN is the step where RAN is now becoming also open where you can get hardware made by somebody and you can put software on it which will work on universal hardware. OpenRAN is now standardizing the things how it is so that anybody can make hardware and anybody software can be written on it. I think everybody will adopt going forward, because it opens up the possibilities of efficiency,” he added.

Airtel has already virtual RAN or vRAN using Altiostar software and Sercomm’s hardware on its small cells. “Small cell hardware was made by somebody else, software was made by Altiostar, we put it together and put automation on top of it, it is already working and serving our customers.”

 

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Tech Mahindra sells stake in Altiostar to Rakuten

Updated: 24 Sep 2020, 07:10 AM IST
By Romita Majumdar

Tech Mahindra will also be the preferred global partner for Rakuten Mobile
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Tech Mahindra had in 2018 bought the stake in Altiostar Networks, a telecom software developer, for $15 million. (Reuters)

Indian IT services company Tech Mahindra and Rakuten Mobile Inc., a Rakuten group company responsible for mobile communications, on Wednesday announced an agreement under which the former has been appointed the preferred partner for global go-to market opportunities for the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP). As part of the deal, Tech Mahindra has sold its stake in Delaware-based Altiostar Networks to Rakuten for $45 million.

In 2018, Tech Mahindra had acquired a 17.5% stake in the US-based telecom software development company Altiostar Networks for $15 million.
Rakuten Mobile and Tech Mahindra aim to drive innovation by transforming network services and enhancing customer experience globally. Based on the agreement, as a preferred partner, Tech Mahindra will provide its leading technologies and software capabilities to support the development and deployment of mobile networks for global customers of RCP. Through the agreement, Tech Mahindra will also provide managed IT, security and network services to Rakuten Mobile, and there are also plans to designate Tech Mahindra as an official reseller of RCP.

RCP is a cloud-native telco platform that enables telcos and enterprises around the world to easily build secure and open mobile networks at speed and low cost, to generate new revenue streams and to offer customers innovative and immersive experiences. RCP was developed by Rakuten Mobile and is based on its new generation mobile network in Japan. Rakuten Mobile combines the latest technology in virtualization and automation, including containers and microservices, and is built on key secure operations principles.

Tech Mahindra and Rakuten Mobile will leverage their partnership to develop and deploy virtualized mobile networks based on RCP to disrupt the telecom landscape. RCP contains all the elements of the Rakuten Mobile network, including telco applications and software from multiple vendors, 08S and BSS, edge computing and virtual network management functions. RCP also incorporates an app—store-like interface where customers can tailor the platform to their local requirements.

Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and CTO, Rakuten Mobile, said, "In April this year, with the support of leading partners from around the world, we were able to achieve the incredible milestone of launching full-scale commercial services on the world’s first fully virtualized mobile network. As we take the next step on our journey, we are proud to be partnering with Tech Mahindra to offer cloud native networks to customers around the world through RCP. "

Manish Vyas, President, Communications, Media & Entertainment Business and CEO, Network Services, Tech Mahindra, said, “There has been a renewed interest in the disaggregated software-based cloud native network from enterprises to drive network transformation. As part of TechMNxt charter, our collaboration with Rakuten Mobile will enable us to support the deployment of mobile networks based on a highly innovative cloud-based communication platform that is open, scalable and highly secure."


TechM & Altiostar are realigning businesses. The plan appear to be aimed at setting up complete end-to-end 5G networks through various partnerships. Rakuten provides the RCP for the network, TechM does the OS, peripheral software work, Altiostar designs the hardware, ITI, Sterlite, VVDN etc gets them manufactured. Not a bad model.
 
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Partners with Jio, Airtel for 5G-ready networks, aims to cut per-bit data cost: Cisco's Sanjay Kaul

Cisco also aims to significantly improve network availability and cost efficiencies for the two telcos.

By Muntazir Abbas
ET Telecom
Updated: September 24, 2020, 17:55 IST
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NEW DELHI: The US-based Cisco Systems said that it has partnered with India's top telecom incumbents such as Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel in pursuit of their ambitions to launch fifth generation or 5G technology-based services, and aims to cut data cost per bit while taking such active collaborations count to 125 worldwide.

"In India, we have partnered with all leading service providers to help them prepare for the 5G era. For instance, we have partnered with Reliance Jio to build a first-of-its-kind 5G-ready network. Along with Cisco, Jio aims to build the world's largest all-IP digital services platform," Sanjay Kaul, President, Asia Pacific and Japan at Service Provider Business, Cisco Systems told ETTelecom.

In March 2020, Kaul said that the company has entered into a similar collaboration with Bharti Airtel to launch India's largest 5G-ready, 200G IP, and optical-integrated network designed to enhance network availability, capacity, and scale. The company with its next-generation offerings to Gurugram-based telco aims to reduce mobile broadband costs per bit significantly and enhance service agility and customer experience. Both telecom carriers, however, are yet to start 5G field trials.


The new IP Ethernet over fiber network, according to the multinational technology conglomerate, is the largest hyper-complex brownfield network transformation of its kind in India, collapsing multiple legacy domains to create a flatter, simpler, and more automated 5G-ready IP network for enhanced customer experiences.

In the wake of its commercial debut in 2016, Jio has created a complete greenfield Internet Protocol or IP-backed network based on VoLTE technology, and its partnership with Cisco included IP/MPLS, data centre, integrated mobile core, service provider Wi-Fi, contact center, security, and enterprise IT. Cisco also aims to significantly improve network availability and cost efficiencies for the two telcos.

"We believe that in the low-touch economy, infrastructure modernization, workplace transformation, and 5G will be the key growth drivers for Cisco over the next few years," the top executive said. The California-headquartered networking giant has more than 125 active engagements globally for next-generation networks, and close to 50 telecom carriers are actively testing and deploying its prestigious 5G offering dubbed as Cisco 5G Now solutions.

Chuck Robbins-headed company has also earmarked a $5 billion fund to help telecom service operators to deploy 5G networks. "We will bring innovative financial solutions on top of cutting-edge technology to telecom service providers. We are already engaged with India's leading telcos to get their network architectures ready for 5G, Kaul added.

It has 360-degree partnerships with India's incumbent telecom service providers to transform their network's 5G readiness, bring 5G services to the market, and digitize their internal processes, systems, and infrastructure. However, following the Covid-19 outbreak, India's technology spending has slowed down while spectrum sale that included 3300-3600Mhz radiowaves for 5G rollouts have also been further dragged to 2021.

In order to stay ahead in 5G play, back in December 2019, Cisco launched our own programmable chipset - called Silicon One, built for high-performance networking for future 5G applications. In 2018, Cisco had signed an agreement with state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to demonstrate use cases using 5G to solve citizen-centric problems in multiple domains such as education, healthcare, and agriculture using technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), surveillance, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

 
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Google files for CCI approval for stake buy in Jio Platform

US internet giant Google has moved the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to get an all-clear for its Rs 33,737 crore investment in Jio Platforms for a 7.73% stake and manufacture a new smartphone in India.

By Devina Sengupta
ET Telecom
Updated: September 24, 2020, 22:49 IST
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Mumbai : US internet giant Google has moved the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to get an all-clear for its Rs 33,737 crore investment in Jio Platforms for a 7.73% stake and manufacture a new smartphone in India. As per the CCI filing on Thursday, Google will be making the investment into the digital arm of Reliance Industries through wholly-owned subsidiary Google International LLC (GIL).

"The notification is being filed in relation to GIL's proposed acquisition of a minority non -controlling shareholding of around 7.73 of equity share capital in JPL (Proposed Investment)," the US major said in its filing.

“The Proposed Transaction comprises the acquisition by GIL of a minority non-controlling stake in JPL under Section 5(a) of the Competition Act, 2002. Simultaneously, certain affiliates of GIL executed a separate commercial agreement with JPL to collaborate on the development of a new low-cost smartphone (the Foundational Commercial Agreement/ FCA, or the Collaboration),” the filing said. “The Proposed Investment and the Collaboration are together referred to as the “Transaction”.

ET was the first to report in its July 22 edition that Google will need CCI approval for its investment. ET on Thursday was also the first to break the CCI filing news on its online platforms. On July 15, search giant Google became the 13th investor to announce that it would buy a 7.73% stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 33,737 crore. This investment was a part of Jio Platforms over Rs1.52 lakh crore fund raising exercise by divesting minority stakes to multiple technology companies such as Qualcomm and Intel besides Facebook and Google, technology focussed private equity players and sovereign wealth funds.

Besides the funding, Google and Jio also entered a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store. The smartphone that could even support 5G at a later stage is targeted at the 350 million feature phone users in India. Under the header ‘The respective markets in which the Parties to the Transaction operate’, Google said that the deal enables Google and Jio Platforms to develop and launch a new smartphone in India.

“The Parties, thus, consider that the only relevant market for assessing the horizontal competitive effects of the Transaction is the market for the supply of mobile phones in India. Outside this Transaction, Google and JPL will continue to conduct their business activities independently,” the filing said. Currently, top players in the Indian mobile phone market include Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple, Vivo, Oppo and Realme.

The investment will be from Google's recently announced $10 billion India digitisation fund and will make it the second largest minority investor in Jio Platforms after arch rival Facebook. Google will also get a board seat, like Facebook. "GIL (acquiror) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google, LLC, collectively with all Google, LLC subsidiaries, ("Google"), Google LLC is a Delaware limited liability Company, and the wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet Inc,. The Acquirer is a holding company and does not own/ operate any of Google's products/services," said Google in its filing in the CCI.

Jio Platforms, along with its subsidiaries, “primarily offers/will offer digital products/services, including wireless, home broadband and enterprise broadband services, telecommunication services, mobile applications, various digital platforms, back-end technology services for ecommerce entities and other miscellaneous software and technology related services,” the filing added.

Legal experts say the companies need the anti-trust body's approval since both of them have access to large amounts of customer data through their presence in the mobility segment, in addition to having large assets and turnover. The US search giant dominates search, video, maps and email in India. Nine out of 10 smartphones sold in India come with Google’s Android OS. Jio Platforms, in turn, is the parent of Reliance Jio, India’s largest telecom company with nearly 400 million users.

Both also have similar services such as payments. Google Pay in India runs on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and is widely regarded as the market leader in this mode of digital payments market in India, processing an estimated 50% of the transaction volume every month, followed by Walmart-owned PhonePe and Paytm. NPCI doesn't disclose platform specific data on monthly transactions.

 

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Vodafone Idea joins Jio, Airtel in naming non-Chinese vendors as priority partners for 5G trials; ropes in Mavenir

Vodafone Idea has joined Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in naming European and US equipment makers as preferred partners for 5G trials, effectively shutting Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE out.

By Danish Khan
ET Telecom
September 25, 2020, 22:30 IST
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New Delhi: Vodafone Idea has joined Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in naming European and US equipment makers as preferred partners for 5G trials, effectively shutting Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE out.

In response to a fresh Department of Telecommunications (DoT) demand for a set of “priority vendors” for 5G trials, Jio has named Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson besides applying to trial its own technology. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have opted for Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Ericsson while BSNL plans to partner state-run Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), said people with knowledge of the matter. Vodafone Idea will also conduct trials with US-based Mavenir.

The latest query from DoT came after each phone company had submitted multiple applications previously and could pave the way for the government to allocate spectrum and start the much-delayed trials without having to take an explicit decision on keeping Huawei and ZTE away amid border tensions with China.
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India has already blocked 224 Chinese apps and made it tougher for companies from there to bid for government contracts. India hasn’t officially barred Chinese vendors from participating in the 5G trials but is said to have unofficially told state-run telcos to stop sourcing gear from them. The government is also believed to have nudged private telcos to gradually reduce their dependence on Chinese vendors.

“Jio has submitted an application to trial its own 5G technology in south Mumbai and Navi Mumbai areas, while it intends to do trials with Samsung in other areas like Bandra Kurla complex, and Kamothe and Solapur in Maharashtra,” a person told ET on condition of anonymity.

Jio intends to conduct 5G trials with Nokia in Pune and Ahmednagar, and with Ericsson in Delhi neighbourhoods such as Chandni Chowk and Shashtri Nagar besides Dabwali in Haryana. Vodafone Idea plans 5G trials with Nokia in Gandhinagar and Pethapur in Gujarat, and with Ericsson in Sharda Centre and Nanekarwadi in Pune, the person said. It will conduct trials with US-based Mavenir, replacing Huawei, in Delhi. Mavenir is an OpenRAN technology provider and is engaged in 4G trials based on this technology with the telco in several circles in India.

In August, Bharti Airtel had submitted fresh applications for trials in Kolkata and Karnataka with Nokia and Ericsson instead of Huawei and ZTE with which it had previously tied up. The latest application to DoT also has Nokia and Ericsson as partners. “Airtel plans to do 5G trials in Phoenix Mall area in Mumbai, Bidhannagar, Salt Lake, Narendrapur and Joka in Kolkata with Nokia. It has submitted applications for trials in DLF Cyber City and Manesar in Delhi-NCR area, and areas like RMZ Ecospace and Divyashree in Bengaluru with Ericsson,” the person added.

"Airtel has applied for both NSA and SA 5G trials to test its network architecture. Even though majority of countries are offering 5G using NSA, SA is also being used for 5G services. Airtel feels it's a good time to test its network using both modes," the person said. Non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) are two 5G tracks that communication service providers can opt for when transitioning from 4G to the next-generation mobile technology. In NSA, existing 4G network layer is used as a fallback option for 5G.

Airtel had previously asked DoT to allow Ceragon as a partner for providing E band equipment for meeting the backhaul requirement of the trial period. Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea didn't respond to ET's queries. State-run BSNL had previously submitted a 5G trial application with ZTE as partner. It has now told the DoT that it will engage C-DoT. India’s 5G trials have been delayed for various reasons, apart from the uncertainty over Huawei and ZTE. Auction of 5G spectrum is scheduled for next year.


So, C-DoT is back in the scene. That good to see. If BSNL is working with C-DoT for 5G, does that mean that Tech Mahindra & C-DoT will be working together ? Or will they be competitors ?

Airtel is going with European companies and have managed to get assurances from them to manufacture the hardware in India. Jio is going with their own and keeping Samsung as a insurance policy incase things don't go as planned.

VI is going to work with Mavenir. The US based company was founded by an Indian and maintains active collaboration with Jio owned Radisys. Wonder how that works ? Maybe they will partner in the US but compete in India.


Mavenir does have tech competence despite its rather young age. Recently they were awarded for the best 5G core & best O-RAN tech in US :

 
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HFCL Building Reliance Jio FTTH Network Across 300 Cities, Seeks More Clarity on BSNL 4G

The fibre prices in the country are said to be “more or less stable” at Rs 280 per fibre kilometer.

BY YOGESH
SEPTEMBER 24TH, 2020; 12:03 PM
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HFCL, a company engaged in the telecommunications infrastructure sector on Saturday said that it is currently implementing Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network for Reliance Jio in about 300 cities across India. The development was shared by Mahendra Nahata, promoter and managing director of HFCL in its first quarter earnings call for the period ended June 30, 2020. Nahata said that the FTTH network has been a “great opportunity” for HFCL. Further, it was said that the company is expanding its capacity for fibre to home ecosystem by putting up a new facility in Hyderabad.

HFCL Implementing FTTH Network for Reliance Jio Across 300 Cities

Nahata said that HFCL is supplying the “entire range” of fibre optic cable in “large volume” to Reliance Jio. Further, Nahata said that the new production facility in Hyderabad would be active in the month of November.

“We are already expanding our capacity for FTTH fibre kind of a cable,” Nahata said in the first quarter earnings call. “Moreover, apart from that, accessories for FTTH cables are also being produced in our Chennai Facility and those are also being supplied in large quantity to Jio, which is the biggest, the largest implementation of FTTH network happening by Jio.”

Nahata said that the fibre prices in the country have been “more or less stable” at Rs 280 per fibre kilometer.

Additionally, Nahata said that the spectrum auction for 5G services is at least six to nine months away. Nahata said that the deployment of 5G would happen in one to one and half years from now, provided the auction happens in a six to nine months period.

HFCL Seeks More Clarity on BSNL 4G Network

Meanwhile, Nahata said that HFCL is not looking at BSNL 4G rollout as an “opportunity” due to multiple reasons including the lack of clarity on the equipment requirement and payment issues.

Nahata said that HFCL does not know what kind of equipment BSNL wants with its 4G network and “what kind of implementation” the operator plans with its 4G services.

Crucially, Nahata does not believe a “large number of companies” would participate in BSNL 4G rollout “unless there is a surety” on the payment plan. Further, Nahata said that the company would look for a “commitment” from the government on how the payment will be made or secured with regards to BSNL 4G network rollout.


More fibre news :

 

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Quad countries deliberating on common approach on 5G technology

The US, India, Japan and Australia are exploring to evolve a common approach on 5G telecom technology, expanding their strategic cooperation under the framework of Quadrilateral coalition or "Quad" which was primarily focused on the Indo-Pacific region.

By PTI
September 26, 2020, 20:51 IST
1601138778845.png


NEW DELHI: The US, India, Japan and Australia are exploring to evolve a common approach on 5G telecom technology, expanding their strategic cooperation under the framework of Quadrilateral coalition or "Quad" which was primarily focused on the Indo-Pacific region.

Officials of the four countries discussed the issue at a virtual meeting of the 'Quad' on Friday in the backdrop of growing reluctance by a significant number of countries in Europe and elsewhere to allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies to operate in their territories. It is learnt that India is already in touch with Japan for the development of 5G technology, and the issue was deliberated upon extensively during the first foreign and defence ministerial dialogue between the two strategic partners in November last year.

"Noting the importance of digital connectivity and secure networks, the officials discussed ways to promote the use of trusted vendors, particularly for fifth generation (5G) networks," a statement by the US said on Friday after the meeting. The US has banned Huawei over concerns of security, and Washington has been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the Chinese telecom major. Huawei has been eyeing India as a major market for its 5G technology.

People familiar with the issue said the proposed cooperation on 5G technology between India and Japan will be discussed threadbare at the annual India-Japan summit which is likely to take place by end of this year. The cooperation between India and Japan has been on an upswing in a range of critical areas in the last few years.

On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephonic conversation with his newly-appointed Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga during which they deliberated on the future direction of the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries. The discussion on the 5G technology at the Quad meeting also reflected how serious the four countries have been on the issue, the people familiar with the issue said.


In November 2017, the four countries gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the "Quadrilateral" coalition or "Quad" to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence. However, the coalition is now expanding the sphere of their cooperation to other issues having geo-political ramifications.

The people said the issue of 5G technology is expected to figure prominently at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Quad member countries in Tokyo next month.

The issue of "risks" posed by Chinese communication networks was discussed at a high-level meeting between India and the US last year. The 5G is the next-generation cellular technology with download speeds stated to be 10 to 100 times faster than the current 4G LTE networks.

 

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Quad countries deliberating on common approach on 5G technology

The US, India, Japan and Australia are exploring to evolve a common approach on 5G telecom technology, expanding their strategic cooperation under the framework of Quadrilateral coalition or "Quad" which was primarily focused on the Indo-Pacific region.

By PTI
September 26, 2020, 20:51 IST
View attachment 17927

NEW DELHI: The US, India, Japan and Australia are exploring to evolve a common approach on 5G telecom technology, expanding their strategic cooperation under the framework of Quadrilateral coalition or "Quad" which was primarily focused on the Indo-Pacific region.

Officials of the four countries discussed the issue at a virtual meeting of the 'Quad' on Friday in the backdrop of growing reluctance by a significant number of countries in Europe and elsewhere to allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies to operate in their territories. It is learnt that India is already in touch with Japan for the development of 5G technology, and the issue was deliberated upon extensively during the first foreign and defence ministerial dialogue between the two strategic partners in November last year.

"Noting the importance of digital connectivity and secure networks, the officials discussed ways to promote the use of trusted vendors, particularly for fifth generation (5G) networks," a statement by the US said on Friday after the meeting. The US has banned Huawei over concerns of security, and Washington has been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the Chinese telecom major. Huawei has been eyeing India as a major market for its 5G technology.

People familiar with the issue said the proposed cooperation on 5G technology between India and Japan will be discussed threadbare at the annual India-Japan summit which is likely to take place by end of this year. The cooperation between India and Japan has been on an upswing in a range of critical areas in the last few years.

On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephonic conversation with his newly-appointed Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga during which they deliberated on the future direction of the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries. The discussion on the 5G technology at the Quad meeting also reflected how serious the four countries have been on the issue, the people familiar with the issue said.


In November 2017, the four countries gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the "Quadrilateral" coalition or "Quad" to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence. However, the coalition is now expanding the sphere of their cooperation to other issues having geo-political ramifications.

The people said the issue of 5G technology is expected to figure prominently at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Quad member countries in Tokyo next month.

The issue of "risks" posed by Chinese communication networks was discussed at a high-level meeting between India and the US last year. The 5G is the next-generation cellular technology with download speeds stated to be 10 to 100 times faster than the current 4G LTE networks.



Great way to counter Chinese.
With all countries together with investment, research and market, we can may be get competitive to even Chinese products.

And grab many Chinese markets.
 
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ITI will be able to produce 4G, 5G equipment in a few months: Tech Mahindra

ITI will be able to produce 4G, 5G equipment in a few months: Tech Mahindra

By PTI
Last Updated: Sep 28, 2020, 11:28 AM IST
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Synopsis

The country's potential to produce talent and software at large scale, coupled with geo-political scenario with China, presents a wonderful opportunity for India to indigenise technologies, Tech Mahindra network services CEO Manish Vyas told PTI.


NEW DELHI: IT company Tech Mahindra is in advance stage of sharing technology with ITI Limited and said the state-run electronics manufacturing entity will be ready to make 4G and 5G equipment in a few months, a senior official of the Mahindra group firm said.

The country's potential to produce talent and software at large scale, coupled with geo-political scenario with China, presents a wonderful opportunity for India to indigenise technologies, Tech Mahindra network services CEO Manish Vyas told PTI.

In June, the company signed an agreement with ITI Limited for development of 4G and 5G technologies. "We are in the stages of exchanging design, starting to plan and also doing a couple of test runs and trials based on the technology that they are looking to manufacture. Pretty advanced stages, it's not something that will take years but months for them to start doing it and of course, it depends on how quickly they start winning business in this area," Vyas said.

He said the partnership to exchange technology with ITI is in line with the government's strong desire to get back the state-run company in manufacturing high-end technology products. "We are going to be helping them with the reference design with the transfer of technology that will enable them to put together the process and the plans to start manufacturing the radio units which are very specific to both 4G and 5G going forward, to an architecture which is an open source, open radio access network-based architecture," he said.

Under government rule, ITI gets some quota to provide equipment that can be installed in the network of public sector telecom companies BSNL and MTNL. ITI has also won a Rs 7,796 crore contract to build communication networks for the Defence sector. Vyas said ITI getting back into high-end manufacturing will be a wonderful opportunity for them and other manufacturers of India.

"This (Indian) market will require hundreds of thousands of radio units in the next few years. Millions I would say, and it will require a facility that people can trust, a country that people can trust, in terms of security from a data standpoint, I think it's a wonderful job. Our partnership is built around enabling them to be able to get back to manufacturing and to seize this moment and opportunity," he said.

Tech Mahindra is already working with Japan's Rakuten Mobile on development of 5G technology. Vyas said that the company will not directly get into telecom equipment manufacturing but support companies worldwide in developing their network gears.

"Tech Mahindra today works for every single major telecom firm outside China. Every single major service provider anywhere in the world, in every country that we care for, in the sense we operate in, in Africa and Latin America, in Europe and Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Japan, America, Canada," he said.

Vyas said that all the top three or four service providers in each of the countries where Tech Mahindra operates are its customers. "It gives us an opportunity to participate with 150 operators globally. The world of opportunity exists for us across the board," he said.

.
 

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Updates on Jio phones :

Reliance Jio may shake up entry-level phone market

Pankaj Doval | TNN | Updated: Sep 28, 2020, 09:26 IST
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NEW DELHI: With an eye on entering mobile manufacturing, Reliance Industries may acquire United Telelinks or forge a contract-manufacturing deal, sources said. Questions sent to Reliance Industries remained unanswered.

Jio Platforms, the telecom and technology arm of Reliance Industries, has received funding from top global private equity and internet giants, including Facebook and Google.

Sources said with Jio attaining leadership in the telecom space, Jio Platforms — the holding company for Reliance Jio — now wants to even control/offer a bundled eco-system to existing and new subscribers to help them migrate to affordable 4G smartphones. This is in line with Mukesh Ambani’s call to make 2G “history” in the country, a statement that would involve upgrading millions of subscribers (mainly from Airtel and Vodafone Idea) to the smartphone eco-system.

Speaking at the 43rd AGM of RIL a few months back, Ambani had announced new frontiers of expansion in the digital and telecom space where he spoke of ambitious plans in the lucrative handset market. He said Jio was targeting 500 million mobile customers by 2023, promising to bring out highly-affordable 4G and even 5G devices that would run on Android operating system provided by the new partner, Google.

“… there are many feature phone users who are waiting… to upgrade to a conventional smartphone… if only it were somehow more affordable. So, we have decided to address this challenge head-on. We believe we can design entry-level 4G… or even 5G smartphones… for a fraction of its current cost,” he had said, adding that it would be developed in partnership with Google.

Reliance sold bundled devices even earlier, but the production of those was outsourced to various contract manufacturers, including Flex.

The government’s PLI benefit scheme to boost smartphone manufacturing in India is almost finalised. A total of seven homegrown companies and five international players are in line to receive benefits under the programme. The local companies include two each from the Lava group (Lava and Sojo), Dixon Technologies (Dixon and Padget Electronics), apart from single applications by Bhagwati (Micromax), Optiemus Infra and United Telelinks.

International players include top contract manufacturers of American electronics giant Apple (Foxconn, Hon Hai, Rising Star, Wistron and Pegatron), apart from Korean Samsung. The entry of Reliance in the business with bundled mobile and data plans would put pressure on Chinese and local handset companies, especially those in the entry-level space.



Jio’s New 5G Phone Details Leaked ! Price Starting From Rs 4000 ?

By Shreya Ambre
Last updated Sep 28, 2020
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Jio’s New 5G Phone Details Leaked! Price Starting From Rs 4000?

After the Reliance Jio-Google partnership in July, there were speculations over affordable Android phones being manufactured. Now, these speculations have been confirmed as Reliance has listed three new phones on the FCC certification.

Reliance To Launch Android Phones With 5G Connection ?


Reliance has listed 3 smartphones for trademark :–

  1. Orbic Myra 5G,
  2. Orbic Magic 5G, and
  3. Orbic Maui.

Orbic Myra 5G, and Orbic Magic 5G will come with 5G connectivity whereas is not clear whether Orbic Maui will be a 4G or 5G device. The 5G devices have been trademarked whereas the Maui is still listed.

According to the tweet, these phones might be mid-range devices. The images show that the phones will have Android 10. According to Digi Statement, the device is expected to have stock ROM with no extra bloatware or OEM skin.

Jio’s Drive For 5G Connectivity !

As per earlier reports, the Reliance Jio Android phones were to be priced at Rs. 4000 ($54). Reliance with the help of local manufacturers wants to manufacture around 200 million smartphones in the next 2 years.

With its network of high-speed 4G and low price, the Jio is now foraying into 5G connectivity. These mid-budget phones packed with 5G and data packs can be a step towards their ‘2G Mukta Bharat’. These low-cost phones armed with data pack may release at the end of 2020 or early 2021.

 
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Telcos continue sparring with ISRO spectrum :

Telcos say spectrum available in mid-band for 5G grossly inadequate; want 80MHz per telco

Indian telecom operators are asking the Telecom department to ensure optimum availability of spectrum in the 3300-3600 Mhz mid band earmarked for 5G services.

By Danish Khan
ET Telecom
Updated: September 28, 2020, 14:54 IST
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NEW DELHI: Indian telecom operators are asking the telecom department to ensure optimum availability of spectrum in the 3300-3600 mid band earmarked for 5G services. They said that the current availability of just 175 MHz for all service providers is "grossly inadequate" and would adversely impact the 5G rollout in the country.

"We have been taking up these issues with DoT/WPC regularly. We have been requesting DoT to kindly recognize the importance of the 3300-3600 MHz band for 5G, and thus, this band should be protected and exclusively used for 5G services," SP Kochhar, DG, COAI, told ET. "Presently, the availability of only 175 MHz spectrum in the 3300 MHz band is grossly inadequate."

Kochhar said Indian telcos can make themselves ready for 5G when at least 80MHz per telco is identified in the 3.5GHz band. Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) represents Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. Globally a 5G operator is generally assigned a contiguous block of 100 MHz of spectrum in the mid-band.

Kochar said that if 175 MHz spectrum is auctioned, then each private operator can potentially get an equal share of 60 MHz and such a situation will lead to limiting the usage of this band for 4G only and would adversely impact the rollout of 5G services in the country. COAI has also urged the DoT to ensure at least 400 MHz per telco in mm-Wave bands (26, 28, 37 GHz) and at least 2x10MHz per operator in sub-GHz bands 600MHz and 700MHz.

3300-3600 MHz (300 MHz) frequency band was envisaged for the 5G services. However, as per the recent spectrum allocation document, the government is allocating just 175 MHz (3425 -3600 MHz) for 5G after ISRO and the Department of Space (DoS) raised concern in allowing 3400-3425 MHz portion for 5G since they need this for NaVIC application.


Last year in February, ISRO raised interference issues with the reception of its four earth stations for NavIC applications. These four locations of the earth-stations are Hassan, Bhopal, Jodhpur and Shillong. “ISRO has proposed to disallow even a single mobile within 300km from these four location. Additionally, the proposal is not to allow even a single 5G base-station within 1385km if operating between 3400-3425MHz,” a senior executive working with a leading gear maker said.

“With this kind of restriction, it's as good as not having 5G in this portion 3400-3425MHz...the protection distance ISRO is looking for spans beyond India. Any of the countries in the circular region deploying a single base-station can interfere with the ISRO NaVIC system,” the person added. Notably, ISRO has already raised a similar objection for 3600-3700MHz using its study, where 1300km separation is needed from 5G station.

“Some countries have considered including a guard between at 3400-3600 to protect FSS services above 3600MHz. These guard bands are either based on trials or simulations. If ISRO goes by its method of calculation, ISRO is likely to even gulp a portion of the spectrum around 3600MHz as a guard band,” he said.

India has already delayed 5G spectrum auction to sometime next year due to spectrum availability, unavailability of use cases and lack of clarity on whether Huawei will be allowed to deploy 5G networks in India. The Department of Space (DoS) has recently objected to any airwaves allocation in the coveted 26 Ghz millimeter wave band for 5G services, saying it can cause interference between satellite and 5G mobile networks and impact quality of satellite coverage, ET recently reported.



Telcos to govt: Delicensing E&V bands to create non level playing field; want transparent auction

Telecom operators have urged the Indian government to allocate spectrum in E & V bands through “transparent auction” on an immediate basis instead of de-licensing it.

By Danish Khan
ET Telecom
Updated: September 28, 2020, 19:20 IST
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NEW DELHI: Telecom operators have urged the Indian government to allocate spectrum in E & V bands through “transparent auction” on an immediate basis instead of de-licensing it. Delicensing of these bands will “tilt the level playing field” against licensed telecom service providers (TSPs) since they are burdened with various costs like spectrum acquisition, License Fee, Spectrum Usage Charge and right of way, COAI said.

“With de-licensing of such important spectrum bands, mobile broadband backhaul would be severely constrained. In addition, neither the roll out obligation can be imposed nor the operator will be keen for seeking returns on investment as they are not paying any amount for this spectrum. Therefore, efficient use of E & V band cannot be guaranteed,” COAI director general S P Kocchar said in a letter dated September 28 to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) represents Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio. “This [de-licensing] will prevent TSPs from competing effectively with operators providing services using unlicensed spectrum or acquired through light touch regulation as recommended by TRAI,” COAI said.

The body said that delicensing and allocation of spectrum on link to link basis are legally untenable and against the Supreme Court’s 2012 verdict on spectrum that scarce natural resources with high demand and valuation should not be allocated administratively at a fixed, nominal cost and that the auctions are the best and most transparent way for “price discovery” of such natural resources.

Spectrum in E & V bands has manifold utilities, whereby it can act both as a high capacity access spectrum for voice and data services as well as backhaul link spectrum. Airwaves in the E band, which falls between 71-76 GHz and 81-86 Ghz, and V band, between 57-64 GHz, can transmit data with speed of around 1,000 megabit per second.

The bands are mostly used as backhaul, which means connecting the core of a telecom network to nodes and then onto towers, to transmit data. In places where telcos cannot lay fibre – – which typically requires manpower for laying and maintaining, national and local level permissions besides a lot of investments – the E and V bands can be used, which is also more cost efficient when compared to fibre.

This spectrum is also called fibre wireless or fixed spectrum, because like fibre it has the capacity to carry bandwidth since it is point-to-point, but it is not used for direct mobile connectivity. COAI said that telecom operators have spent thousands of crores in acquiring spectrum for providing telecom services and it will be highly unjust if spectrum for similar or superior services is offered on delicensed basis to operators, wherein no payment would be involved.

“This would result in one set of operators paying high spectrum charges (acquisition cost as well as SUC) while another set of operators would not be paying anything, for offering the same set of services to the same set of customers...this would prevent fair competition and offer irrational cost advantage to these operators using unlicensed spectrum,” the body said in its letter.

COAI said that a market determined price through open auction will ensure huge revenue to the government which has to be forgone in case of light-touch regulation or delicensing. Telco said that the V-band and E-band are extremely valuable resources for India for 5G as well as backhaul for mobile broadband, which will enable millions of homes to access high speed broadband for entertainment, education and work.

“As India aspires to take a leadership position in 5G, the existing and long term availability of spectrum that can be used for carrier grade services for 1.3 billion Indians will be crucial. The administrative allocation of licenses for V/E-bands by few countries was mainly in the pre-5G era,” Kochhar said. Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel executives recently urged the government to release spectrum in E and V bands, which will enable telecom operators to build a strong backhaul as they modernise their existing 4G networks with 5G-ready technologies.

“E-band spectrum, which is for the backhaul... the government should really take a look at and see what they can do to make it more readily available,” Vodafone Idea chief technology officer Vishant Vora recently said at the ETTelecom Digital Telco Virtual Summit 2020. “The operators will need that backhaul – there’s no point in putting in a lot of spectrum in the front end of the radio without having a proper backhaul.”

Bharti Airtel’s CTO Randeep Sekhon also said that spectrum in E band and V band will be key to 5G backhaul in India. The government should allow these bands at the earliest, he said.

.
 

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Interesting take on Jio & Facebook :


 

Gautam

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Vodafone Idea network is 5G ready; in talks with DoT for trial spectrum: Ravinder Takkar

Vodafone Idea recently joined Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in naming European equipment makers as preferred partners for 5G trials, effectively shutting out Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.

By Danish Khan
ET Telecom
Updated: September 30, 2020, 17:04 IST
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NEW DELHI: Vodafone Idea said that it will be able to launch 5G whenever spectrum is made available through auction. It has upgraded its 4G network with 5G architecture and other technologies like dynamic spectrum refarming (DSR) and massive MIMO to make it 5G-ready.

"Our network is very much 5G-ready. When 5G auction takes place, we will be able to launch 5G. However, there is a need to develop India 5G use cases. India is unique and some global use cases might not be relevant," Vodafone Idea MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar said during the AGM meeting.

Vodafone Idea, he said, is working with the telecom department on 5G use cases and how trials will be done. "Very soon we will get 5G trial specrtum. We will be testing use cases that we have shared with the government," he said.

Vodafone Idea recently joined Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in naming European equipment makers as preferred partners for 5G trials, effectively shutting out Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.

In response to a fresh Department of Telecommunications (DoT) demand for a set of “priority vendors” for 5G trials, Jio has named Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson besides applying to trial its own technology. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have opted for Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Ericsson while BSNL plans to partner state-run Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), said people with knowledge of the matter. Vodafone Idea will also conduct trials with US-based Mavenir.

On the network expansion, he said, that board has approved additional fund raising and Rs 15000 crore debt funding and potentially another Rs 15000 crore equity funding. "The total of those two or a combination has to be around Rs 25,000 crore. The business plan that we have put together for the company that is sufficient fund for us to be able to continue network expansion and compete effectively in the market place. We are positive."

 
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Taking on the Chinese

Government wants to promote the domestic telecom equipment industry by keeping out Chinese vendors. But that's easier said than done

By Manu Kaushik | Print Edition: October 18, 2020
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Illustration by Raj Verma

India's quest to become self-reliant in telecom equipment began as early as 2012 when the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) came out with a notification to promote domestically manufactured telecom products due to security issues with foreign equipment.

Over the years, successive notifications were issued by DoT, Ministry of Electronics and IT and Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade but government enterprises - on which these rules applied - found a way out to avoid giving contracts to domestic vendors in favour of foreign players such as Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson and Nokia.

But things have changed now. The cross-border tension with China has led to a series of important developments over the past few months. To begin with, the government's policy think-tank, NITI Aayog, conducted a meeting in early June with nearly three dozen domestic original equipment makers (OEMs), BSNL and DoT to discuss the possibility of rolling out a 4G network with indigenous capabilities. Then, in July, BSNL scrapped its 4G upgrade tender to support the consortium-based model discussed in the NITI Aayog meeting. This was followed by an order from the finance ministry on July 23 under which bidders from neighbouring countries must register with Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade which, in turn, will have to take security clearances from home ministry and external affairs ministry.

So, while the conditions don't name any country or company, industry watchers say this will effectively ban Chinese vendors Huawei, ZTE and Fiberhome from government tenders in future. It also sends a clear signal to private operators to stay away from Chinese OEMs.

But banning Chinese OEMs is the easy part. The bigger challenge is to find their replacements, which are few and far between at the moment. Nevertheless, the domestic industry is making an effort to collaborate with the government, and it's still as unclear as it has always been to tell that if the two can pull it off.

Us Vs Them

Indian vendors think unless the government creates a vacuum by showing the door to Chinese companies, they will not be able to prove their mettle. Chinese companies, on the other hand, think that finding their replacement won't be easy. For instance, Huawei has been investing about $20 billion annually in 5G; it had started working on 5G way back in 2009. Indian vendors have been complaining for long that despite having capabilities (hardware and software) to develop 3G/4G products, they are facing huge challenges from their foreign counterparts in largely five areas: pricing, perception, experience, scale and support. Let's look at pricing. Though it's not proven, some experts suggest that Chinese government is backing Huawei to ensure its global lead in 5G. "Chinese banks give Huawei low-cost funds so that it can provide attractive and long-term financing to operators," says an industry consultant.

Also, the telecom equipment market is a game of scale. Early large investment in a technology gets spread out if the vendor is able to sell solutions in different geographies. Indian players are at a disadvantage here. Look at Reliance Jio. The Mukhesh Ambani-led telco recently announced that it has developed complete 5G solutions in-house that it will not only use for its own network but also sell to telecom operators globally. At the announcement of its "complete 5G solution from scratch" in the July annual general meeting of Reliance Industries, Ambani said that once Jio's 5G solutions are proven in India, Jio Platforms will be well-positioned to be an exporter of 5G solutions to other telecom operators globally as a complete managed service. "We are ready for field deployment next year," Ambani said. While Jio didn't participate in the story, a company source said that the telco alone cannot do everything. Even if Jio launches 5G systems next year, it will not be able to commercially deploy them on its network until 5G networks are running in the country. That might take one-two years depending on 5G spectrum auction (when it happens and the response). Unless Jio deploys its own systems and shows promising results, it will not be able to sell them to operators globally. Also, the fact that Jio's 5G system will make the telco stronger means there's a strong likelihood that rivals Airtel and Vodafone Idea will ignore it. Besides, using untested 5G systems from Jio will not make sense for rivals who already have long-term contracts with existing global vendors. So, for Jio, it's going to be a long road before it can prove its might in the 5G network space.

Jio is following the Open RAN (radio access network) model, pioneered by Japanese telco Rakuten Mobile. To put it simply, O-RAN model is a consortium-led approach where software comes from one vendor, hardware from another, and systems integrator puts everything together to build the network.

The initiative is led by a global alliance (O-RAN Alliance), which is defining specifications for building open networks and encouraging innovation. Jio is part of this alliance. Its prowess in 5G tech comes primarily from acquisition of US-based Radisys, which is focussed on system integration and software development under open telecom solutions. The O-RAN style is exactly opposite to the model followed by Huawei and Ericsson where everything is done by one vendor using its proprietary technology and single-sourced components.

"O-RAN has advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest downsides is security threat to the network because of many interfaces. It's like having one entrance to a house as against three-four entrances. A consortium approach will lead to more work, lower efficiencies. O-RAN is not fully matured yet," says a senior executive with a large OEM.

The executive explains the flaws by drawing an analogy with a water RO system in households. "Assume that this RO system has been bought from a consortium. If it conks off, what will a consumer do? He will identify the problem (whether it's electrical or filter-related). If he cannot do that, he will randomly call one of the vendors. They will pass on the problem to another vendor. I have intelligent systems that constantly monitor the network, find the precise problem and get it sorted within four hours - which is the standard SLA (service-level agreement) right now. In O-RAN network, there are chances that vendors will drift away from this SLA," he says. An SLA is an agreement between a service provider (OEM) and a customer (telcos).

"Technology is one part of the product lifecycle. Who will take care of after-sales support and marketing?," asks a telecom executive. That is why a large chunk of the global telecom equipment market is divided among three OEMs. Past attempts by giants like Samsung to capture this market, especially in 4G, have not gone anywhere. Others like Japan's NEC, which has been aggressively pushing its 5G radios, seem to be falling short in areas like marketing and sales support. "The lifecycle of these equipment is long. The vendors have to make telcos believe that they are in for a long haul," says a telco executive.

The biggest pull for O-RAN networks is that they cost 15-20 per cent less than the proprietary ones. Plus, the telcos can have the best of all worlds. How? "Open RAN is a combination of core, RAN, billing and support system. While Huawei, Ericsson, Samsung and other have patents in 5G, none of them have all the patents. So, when standalone 5G standards will be defined in December 2022, all their patents are likely to be pooled and made available to all vendors across the globe," says N.K. Goyal, Chairman of Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India (TEMA).

Not just Jio, companies like Tech MAhindra and STL have also taken the 'open architecture' route. For instance, Tech Mahindra has tied up with state-run ITI to participate in BSNL's 4G tender and collaborate on 5G. Manish Vyas, President (Communications, Media & Entertainment Business) and CEO (Network Services) at Tech Mahindra, says his company is leveraging new-age technologies to power Make in India initiative. "We are designing network assets keeping the massive demand for 4G expansion and 5G roll-outs in mind and have collaborated with ITI to enable manufacturing of 4G equipment and work on building capabilities for 5G equipment for India," he says.

In January, STL invested in ASOCS, a developer of open and virtualised RAN solutions, delivering 4G and 5G technologies. The deal will enable STL to create solutions for 5G network rollouts. STL, which collaborated with O-RAN Alliance last year, is investing heavily in building end-to-end digital network ecosystem, including optical and wireless (5G) portfolio for all markets.

Parag Naik, CEO at homegrown Saankhya Labs, says the industry is heading towards a phase where vertical integration is over. "Operators don't want a single vendor. Can it be deployed tomorrow? The answer is no. It has to be a two-year plan, and that's where the government has to step in and promote more indigenous companies," he says.

Exuberance Vs Reality

One problem with the local equipment industry is that its plans are based on the government's will. They will flourish, and local ecosystem developed, when the big players are either banned or have their wings clipped. The recent withdrawal of the BSNL tender and the finance ministry order are steps in that direction. But most vendors that Business Today spoke with are reading too much into these developments. For instance, one vendor says it's immaterial whether Jio has capability or not; what matters is their presence. "If anybody can do Make in India, it's them. They have the financial power," says a domestic vendor.

"This is the beginning of the end of Chinese dominance in the telecom space. When the 4G tender of BSNL was floated, there was no Indian player in the race. Now that the government has modified the rules, at least six companies have surfaced. Indian companies can do a better job than the foreign giants," says promoter of another equipment vendor.

"Private investors, particularly international ones, believe building a telecom play (hardware) in India is next to impossible. The government has to make them understand, and walk the talk," says Naik of Saankhya Labs, adding that his semiconductor solutions company is tapping the anti-China sentiment in Europe and the US where firms are looking for non-Chinese vendors.

But there's a catch! The government is reportedly asking local vendors to build the system and show its efficacy in short-distance area before expanding at the state level. This will delay 4G plans of BSNL, which is already a late entrant in the space. Telecom body TEMA has suggested that the government allow purchase of 70-80 per cent systems from established players like Nokia, Ericsson and others through open tender while the balance 20-30 per cent can be for local vendors.

Some suggest that no matter how hard India tries, it cannot contribute more than 10-15 per cent to the global supply chain in the next five years. Even in the domestic market, the dependence on foreign vendors is not going to go away immediately. Even if Chinese companies are excluded, the telcos will need Ericsson, Nokia and others. Also, India has already lost the 5G game. That's because the global 5G ecosystem is two-three years ahead of us. This is even more true vis a vis China, which has nearly 70 per cent of global 5G subscriptions. "If India wants to be a force to reckon with, it should have already started investing billions of dollars in 6G. In 5G, we can surely become an equipment vendor, but will get low-margin business. If we want to play in the top league, investment in 6G is crucial," says a telecom analyst.

The Challenges

Despite getting an unusual advantage, it's not going to be easy for domestic operators to build networks. Building a nationwide 4G network (in case of BSNL) from scratch can be challenging. Take a look at the US, which has put all its might behind 5G but has not been able to create a single home champion.

In fact, technology trends are beyond government control. That's why the recent localisation push from the government seems shaky. How? Localisation has two parts: foreign companies making products in India and Indian companies making products (for Indian and global telcos). The first is already happening since Huawei has a manufacturing plant in Chennai while Ericsson has a plant in Pune.

In an email response, Ericsson India MD Nitin Bansal said the Pune facility not only delivers more than 90 per cent of radios that Ericsson supplies to Indian service providers but also exports 5G radios to other markets.

The capabilities of domestic players look good on paper but they haven't worked on a large scale to prove their point. A recent example is the June meeting at NITI Aayog where loopholes in claims of local players emerged. At one point during the meeting, P.K. Purwar, the CMD of BSNL, told the members that their products need further development. "BSNL does not have money for experimentation. In view of this, before finalising tenders, capabilities have to be demonstrated and the product should be ready," he said.

What's Next ?

Of late, the global telecom equipment market has become a battleground with Chinese versus everyone else. This was started by the US early last year. Others such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan joined the bandwagon. The UK also recently decided to gradually phase out Huawei's equipment from its 5G network.

In India, even as the anti-China sentiment continues to gather steam due to the border dispute, the Chinese OEMs are bearing the brunt. Their attempts over the past two years to allay fears of government agencies have failed. Though Indian telcos have not openly spoken against or in favour of Huawei or ZTE in recent months, their actions speak volumes. In April, for instance, Airtel gave a $1-billion contract to enhance its 4G network and prepare a base for 5G to Nokia. Then, Airtel reportedly replaced Huawei with Erisccon in its 4G network in Rajasthan last year. There are reports that telcos might avoid Huawei and ZTE in 5G trials.

This is contrary to the statement made by Airtel's Chairman Sunil Mittal last October for Huawei by saying that their products are superior to European OEMs Ericsson and Nokia. "Huawei should be in play. They, for the last 10-12 years, have been extremely good with their products to a point where I can safely today say their products, at least in 3G, 4G that we have experienced, are significantly superior to Ericsson and Nokia without a doubt," Mittal had reportedly said.

"Huawei remains compliant with all local laws and regulations in every market it operates to bring secured world-class tech for all. We are the most scrutinised company in the world and we have proven (ourselves) with a solid 30-year track record. In India, too, we ensure necessary compliance based on audits by external agencies which we have been conducting proactively for three years now, the results of which are shared with key officials and stakeholders," Huawei spokesperson said in a response to BT queries.

An industry insider says Huawei is now planning to tap the enterprise segment. But then, if its future in India hangs in balance, it's unclear if the strategy will work.

As per Research and Markets report, the global telecom infrastructure equipment market stood at $383.86 billion last year. It is expected to grow at over 7 per cent a year to touch $504.56 billion in 2023. For India, there's nothing to lose, and a lot to gain if the current momentum can help it capture such a large opportunity in the years to come.

 
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Airtel, Vodafone Idea begin their 'clean telco' journey with western vendors; ignore Huawei for wireline transformation

Having made clear their intentions of avoiding Chinese gear vendors Huawei and ZTE for their wireless networks, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are now looking to work only with US and European vendors for even the non-wireless or non-RAN portions of their networks.

By Danish Khan
ET Telecom
Updated: October 06, 2020, 19:42 IST
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NEW DELHI: Having made clear their intentions of avoiding Chinese gear vendors Huawei and ZTE for their wireless networks, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are now looking to work only with US and European vendors for even the non-wireless or non-RAN portions of their networks, which are more prone to hacking and are crucial from a data security point of view.

The two telcos are in the process of awarding new contracts for transport, packet and core networks – which form the foundation of service delivery – and are talking to the likes of Ciena, Nokia and Cisco. The move comes with rival Reliance Jio trying to leverage its “clean telco”, or without Chinese equipment, branding while pitching their services.

Triggers: Supply Chain issues and Enterprise worries


Sources say a major trigger is the fact that US and European cloud providers and enterprises don’t want to work with companies associated with Chinese vendors as they have huge data in play. Additionally, telcos are concerned about the uncertainty around these vendors' supply chain in the wake of geo-political issues. While Airtel and Vodafone Idea aren’t replacing Chinese vendors in existing contracts yet, Huawei and ZTE aren’t being considered for any fresh deals, say sources.

“Why Indian telcos specifically Airtel is changing Chinese vendors especially Huawei because they are worried about their supply chain. Telcos can’t plan their network strategy with no clarity on the future of the vendor in case of fresh embargos,” a person familiar with the matter said. “Network security isn’t really the main driver”. The person added that western web scale companies have apprehensions about a network with Chinese gear hence they are asking telcos to be clear about their network strategy.

Core network as the name suggests it the most crucial aspect of a telecom network as the processing and hosting of services and applications take place here while transport acts as the pipe of the network connecting all elements with each other. The non- Radio/RAN is also called the wireline network [different from wireline broadband and landline]. Airtel has issued request for proposals (RFPs) for its backhaul, national long distance (NLD) expansion besides looking to modernise Carrier Ethernet Network (CEN) and IP router based packet transport.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco currently has Huawei and Nokia supplying equipment for the NLD network in India. NLD is a part of core networks along with metro and regional optical networks. “It has already given new business to Ciena for metro city optical layer expansion. Huawei is already present in the layer. While a swap isn’t taking place but for the new expansion business, Huawei and ZTE aren’t being considered,” the second person said.

Sources said that with Reliance Jio openly claiming to be a “clean telco”, Airtel has started work to address “foreseeable” concerns of its enterprise customers.

"For a successful wireless network, India needs a ubiquitous and reliable wireline network. Not too long ago, Indian wireless market was spectrum limited but now it will be ‘wireline limited’ , unless operators get the strategy right for the next phase," Ryan Perera, vice president and general manager at Ciena India, told ET. He, however, declined to comment on the Airtel deal.

Airtel chief technology officer Randeep Sekhon recently told ET that his focus is making the network future-ready by taking out legacy technologies. He added that Airtel was making a lot of efforts in core and transport domains. A senior Vodafone Idea executive separately said that the telco has also begun efforts on network transformation.

“Transformation is ongoing. Every telco is going for a massive change. For instance, if you want to give VoLTE to all customers and need to do transformation. No telco can live without network transformation. It’s inevitable,” the Vi executive added. VIL is currently in talks with vendors for National Long Distance (NLD) and Metro Core transport networks.

"They are unsure about Chinese vendors in short to medium term especially with respect to the ongoing issues at the border and the government's stance. They may not give any new contract in the sensitive areas like core, transport and backhaul to Chinese," the second person said.

Vodafone Idea has joined Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in naming European and US-based equipment makers as preferred partners for 5G trials, effectively shutting out Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Ciena, Nokia and Huawei didn't respond to ET's queries.

Proactive Airtel partners with European vendors for wireless

Bharti Airtel is already replacing Huawei with Sweden’s Ericsson for 4G network expansion and modernization in the Rest of Tamil Nadu (RoTN) circle having already replaced the Chinese vendor in the Rajasthan circle.

Airtel has said that European vendors Nokia and Ericsson have given commitment to the telco to make 5G network equipment in India, allowing local telecom operators to source network elements locally and contribute towards building the economy. Sekhon recently told ET that its two European partners - Ericsson and Nokia - will supply radio, core and transport equipment through their local factories in India.

“They have promised to us that 5G also will be made here, which means in some way telcos are also contributing to the economy of the country by consuming something which is made here,” he added.

Additional $2 billion capex needed to remove Huawei, ZTE

India joined the US in highlighting security concerns around with Huawei and ZTE, especially in the wake of heightened border tensions with China. New Delhi has already barred state-run carriers BSNL and MTNL from sourcing equipment from Huawei and ZTE and is believed to have nudged private players to do the same.

Indian telcos are keeping the Chinese vendors out of fresh contracts. Analysts said the telcos would need at least four years to remove Chinese equipment from their networks. However, if the government orders carriers to quickly remove Chinese vendors, then telcos can do the swap in less than a year but that will increase their combined capex in the short-term by an estimated $2 billion.

Airtel has already replaced consumer devices like routers and hotspots made by Huawei and ZTE and is now sourcing devices from Nokia and Beetel.

“There are supply chain issues attached with Chinese vendors when it comes to these devices plus there is anti-China sentiment, which is why Airtel is working with other available vendors,” the second person said.

 

AbRaj

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Dec 6, 2017
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Republic of Wadiya
HFCL Building Reliance Jio FTTH Network Across 300 Cities, Seeks More Clarity on BSNL 4G

The fibre prices in the country are said to be “more or less stable” at Rs 280 per fibre kilometer.

BY YOGESH
SEPTEMBER 24TH, 2020; 12:03 PM
View attachment 17922

HFCL, a company engaged in the telecommunications infrastructure sector on Saturday said that it is currently implementing Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network for Reliance Jio in about 300 cities across India. The development was shared by Mahendra Nahata, promoter and managing director of HFCL in its first quarter earnings call for the period ended June 30, 2020. Nahata said that the FTTH network has been a “great opportunity” for HFCL. Further, it was said that the company is expanding its capacity for fibre to home ecosystem by putting up a new facility in Hyderabad.

HFCL Implementing FTTH Network for Reliance Jio Across 300 Cities

Nahata said that HFCL is supplying the “entire range” of fibre optic cable in “large volume” to Reliance Jio. Further, Nahata said that the new production facility in Hyderabad would be active in the month of November.

“We are already expanding our capacity for FTTH fibre kind of a cable,” Nahata said in the first quarter earnings call. “Moreover, apart from that, accessories for FTTH cables are also being produced in our Chennai Facility and those are also being supplied in large quantity to Jio, which is the biggest, the largest implementation of FTTH network happening by Jio.”


Nahata said that the fibre prices in the country have been “more or less stable” at Rs 280 per fibre kilometer.

Additionally, Nahata said that the spectrum auction for 5G services is at least six to nine months away. Nahata said that the deployment of 5G would happen in one to one and half years from now, provided the auction happens in a six to nine months period.

HFCL Seeks More Clarity on BSNL 4G Network

Meanwhile, Nahata said that HFCL is not looking at BSNL 4G rollout as an “opportunity” due to multiple reasons including the lack of clarity on the equipment requirement and payment issues.

Nahata said that HFCL does not know what kind of equipment BSNL wants with its 4G network and “what kind of implementation” the operator plans with its 4G services.

Crucially, Nahata does not believe a “large number of companies” would participate in BSNL 4G rollout “unless there is a surety” on the payment plan. Further, Nahata said that the company would look for a “commitment” from the government on how the payment will be made or secured with regards to BSNL 4G network rollout.


More fibre news :

I wonder why BSNL is bothering about rolling out 4G network when world is moving to 5G ?
Are they flush with extra cash or just shortsightedness?
 
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AbRaj

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Dec 6, 2017
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Republic of Wadiya
BSNL has strted 4G services inside the Atal Tunnel/Rohtang Tunnel. But how ? They didn't have 4G. They were trialing out Tech Mahindra's 4G network near Mumbai. Is this the first real world deployment ?


Department of Space(DoS) doesn't want to give up mmWave spectrum for telco usage. This is the primary hurdle now, not sure how to solve it though :


And Nokia and Ericsson want to make 5G gear for Airtel in India. It seems Samsung is not the only vendor facing the heat :

Airtel says Nokia, Ericsson promised to provide locally made 5G gear

Bharti Airtel said that European vendors Nokia and Ericsson have given commitment to the telco to make 5G network equipment in India, allowing local telecom operators to source network elements locally and contribute towards building the economy.

By Danish Khan
ET Telecom
Updated: September 18, 2020, 16:46 IST
View attachment 17882

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel said that European vendors Nokia and Ericsson have given commitment to the telco to make 5G network equipment in India, allowing local telecom operators to source network elements locally and contribute towards building the economy.

“The self-reliant vision of the country is key to the whole economy. Telcos’ role is very important or reliable service is very important, and I think telco should partner with the government of India in creating a Digital India,” Randeep Sekhon, CTO of Bharti Airtel said during a fireside session at the ETTelecom Digital Telco Virtual Summit 2020.

Sekhon said that its two partners Ericsson and Nokia will supply radio, core and transport equipment through their local factories in India. “They have promised to us that 5G also will be made here, which means in some way telcos are also contributing to the economy of the country by consuming something which is made here,” he added.

Airtel also works with Chinese gear vendors Huawei and ZTE in India for select circles. However, both Chinese vendors import their gear from other markets. Airtel is reducing its dependence on Chinese vendors, especially Huawei. It has already replaced Huawei in Rajasthan circle with Ericsson gear and is now in a process to do the same in Rest of Tamil Nadu circle.

Sekhon said that Airtel is already deploying 5G-ready technology in its wireless and backhaul networks. “A robust transport network is needed. 5G will need backhaul, which will be much larger than the backhaul of a 4G site needs because of the sheer spectrum 5G brings in. Backhaul readiness is what Airtel is doing.”

The executive also said that spectrum in E-band and V-band will be key to 5G backhaul in India, adding that the government will have to allow these bands at the earliest. For 5G, he said that huge investments will be required in terms of capex, including radio, core and transport. Sekhon revealed that Airtel is making a lot of efforts in “core and transport domains” to bring automation in time before 5G technology becomes a commercial reality in India.

“We are investing in tools, which are very easily portable to 5G. Similarly, the investments we make on the infrastructure side are 5G ready, we just will have to do commercial 5G licensing when we come to that,” he added. He emphasized about developing business-to-business (B2B) use cases in India around the 5G technology. “B2B use cases are something another challenge because it is not like a service. It's not like a broadband, you can go buy, put it the same in your phone and start using it. B2B use cases will have to be built by the industry.”

He said that industrial 4.0 revolution will be the “killer application” which 5G will enable. 5G will power smart factories allowing automation to work seamlessly with the help of higher bandwidth and ultra-low latency. “5G will find use cases where the latency requirement is low and the bandwidth requirement is high. There will be private 5G networks,” he said.

During the session, the executive said that Bharti Airtel supports OpenRAN technology as it allows efficiencies in the telecom network, and will allow the telco to further innovate. “OpenRAN is the step where RAN is now becoming also open where you can get hardware made by somebody and you can put software on it which will work on universal hardware. OpenRAN is now standardizing the things how it is so that anybody can make hardware and anybody software can be written on it. I think everybody will adopt going forward, because it opens up the possibilities of efficiency,” he added.

Airtel has already virtual RAN or vRAN using Altiostar software and Sercomm’s hardware on its small cells. “Small cell hardware was made by somebody else, software was made by Altiostar, we put it together and put automation on top of it, it is already working and serving our customers.”

All modern WIFI networks nowadays work on 4G. They are providing only Local Area Network there IMO