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

Gautam

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Elon Musk's SpaceX urges India to allow satellite tech for rural internet; wants E&V bands: Report


Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX has urged the Indian government to give approvals for providing satellite-based internet services in remote areas of India and suggested that E- and V-bands be opened up for satellite providers, as per a report by Medianama.

By ET Telecom
November 17, 2020, 18:07 IST

NEW DELHI: Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX has urged the Indian government to give approvals for providing satellite-based internet services in remote areas of India and suggested that E & V bands be opened up for satellite providers, as per a report by Medianama.

The development comes close on the heels of a new draft Spacecom policy floated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) that will enable private Indian firms to use existing space assets for providing communication services as well as for developing new systems, launch satellites, and sell services to foreign customers.

SpaceX said that there need to be tech-neutral broadband definitions, spectrum allotments for satellite systems, promoting of spectrum sharing, and a review of fees and related taxes that disincentivize broadband adoption in India.

It further said that the E & V bands should be kept open for satellite providers which is in-line with TRAI’s recommendations that the E & V bands, that are typically said to be useful for 5G networks but are only used in the short distance, should be utilized for broadband deployment in India.

The California-based company is also batting for a “band-splitting” model that encourages efficient use of spectrum and added that private telcos be allowed to share spectrum.

The Ka-band frequency which is used for connecting ground stations to fixed satellite systems should be provided to satellite operators, said SpaceX further.

“While India has long encouraged satellite operators to deploy gateway earth station facilities within the country, this policy is thwarted by the absence of Ka-band frequency assignments that are required to communicate with those gateway earth stations. SpaceX encourages TRAI and spectrum agencies in India to develop an approval process for these assignments. This effort is fundamental to expanding high-speed broadband service in India,” the publication quoted SpaceX as saying.

SpaceX has also urged for blanket licensing to streamline site-per-site licensing requirements and to accelerate the deployment of two-way satellite broadband terminals for supporting satellite broadband services such as Starlink.

However, India’s telecom service providers have expressed concerns over the “backdoor entry” of satellite communications (Satcom) operators in the country, ETTelecom reported. They want the Department of Telecommunications to provide spectrum only through auctions and not through the administrative route.


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Indian telcos flag concerns over backdoor entry of Satcom operators: Report


India’s telecom service providers have written to the Department of Space flagging their concerns over the “backdoor entry” of satellite communications (Satcom) operators in the country, as per a Business Standard report.

By ET Telecom
Updated: November 16, 2020, 15:50 IST
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NEW DELHI: India’s telecom service providers have written to the Department of Space flagging their concerns over the “backdoor entry” of satellite communications (Satcom) operators in the country, as per a Business Standard report.

This follows billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s announcement on microblogging platform Twitter that his Starlink internet services would launch in India once it receives regulatory approvals in 2021.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), while responding to the draft Spacecom Policy released last month, has opined that non-government private entities (NGPE) that have been permitted to establish their own space systems for providing communication services should be objected to the same licensing regulations as telecom service providers (TSPs) in order to ensure a “level playing field.”

COAI has further demanded that NGPEs obtain spectrum through auctions, like how telcos do and not just through authorization by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), as suggested in the draft policy.

The telcos have further warned the telecom department that a license should be made necessary as the “international satellite lobby” may establish NGPEs in order to come up with a number of paper satellite filings to claim protection from the terrestrial use of mmWave bands earmarked for IMT services.

The COAI letter further states that this “abnormal protection” may drive up costs for the deployment of next-generation network technology, consequently depriving Indians of 5G services.

"Stringent criterion and control on private satellite filings and the protection criterion must be considered after these NGPEs acquire spectrum through auction", the COAI said in its letter.

The COAI represents Airtel, Vi, and Reliance Jio and global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Nokia and Ericsson.

This latest letter was sent after an apex panel of secretaries nudged the Department of Space (DoS) and the defense ministry to heed the DoT’s request to part with unused 5G spectrum – both in the coveted 26 GHz band and those in the 3.3-3.6 GHz frequencies – for commercial use by telcos.

The DoT wants the government to release 3,000 units of 26 GHz millimeter wave spectrum and 300 units in the 3.3-3.6 GHz for 5G. The airwaves are with the DoS and the defense ministry.

Globally, satellite-based broadband services have been picking pace. Bharti Airtel has also bought a 45% stake in UK-based communications company OneWeb for $500 million. A joint bidding entity of Bharti Global and the British government, which recently won a bid to take over UK’s OneWeb, has written to Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) to secure landing rights to use the bankrupt British firm’s satellite systems capacity in India to deliver fast wireless broadband services, ET had reported.

Bharti Global is the overseas arm of Bharti Enterprises – the holding company of Bharti Airtel, India’s second-largest telecom operator.

 

Gautam

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Airtel starts refarming 2G spectrum for 4G services to enhance indoor coverage

Bharti Airtel has started deploying 4G technology in 900 megahertz band, which it was using for 2G services, across 10 telecom circles to enhance indoor coverage of the high-speed mobile telephony, according to sources involved in the process.

By Prasoon Srivastava, PTI
November 17, 2020, 16:44 IST
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New Delhi: Bharti Airtel has started deploying 4G technology in 900 megahertz band, which it was using for 2G services, across 10 telecom circles to enhance indoor coverage of the high-speed mobile telephony, according to sources involved in the process.

The refarming of 900 Mhz spectrum band for 4G services is underway in six circles of Delhi, Kolkata, Andhra Pradesh, North East, Karnataka and Rajasthan. The company will extend the exercise to more circles where it has liberalised spectrum in the 900 Mhz band, one of the sources said. A senior Bharti Airtel executive told that the company has already shut down 3G across the country and re-farmed all the 3G spectrum for 4G.

"As smartphone penetration grows further in small towns and villages, we have the opportunity to deploy some of the high quality 900 Mhz band from 2G to 4G and scale up network capacity without having to wait till auctions. This is helping us truly differentiate the 4G experience on our network," the company executive who did not wish to be named said.

The executive added that Bharti Airtel has liberalised 900 Mhz spectrum in 10 circles and the entire refarming process is expected to be completed in the next 3-4 months. A recent report by OpenSignal rated Airtel as the network with the highest download speed, the best gaming experience and also the best video experience.

The company executive said that the refarming will enable Bharti Airtel to further boost mobile signals inside buildings compared to signals transmitted in high frequency bands of 1800 Mhz and 2300 Mhz bands that are also in use for 4G services. "900 Mhz band with higher propagation, especially helps in better indoor coverage for 4G and adds more muscle to Airtel's 4G spectrum bank, which includes airwaves in 2300 Mhz and 1800 Mhz bands," the executive said.

Bharti Airtel recorded 14.4 million new 4G customers on its network in the second quarter of ongoing financial year. The executive said that Airtel will continue to provide 2G services. Another source mentioned that network vendors of the company in respective circles have been engaged in the refarming process. A query sent to Bharti Airtel in this regard elicited no immediate reply.

 

Gautam

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OFC makers demand benefits under PLI scheme

Homegrown optic-fibre cable (OFC) makers have sought benefits under the Centre's prestigious production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme following India's aggressive roadmap for next-generation technologies particularly the fifth-generation or 5G networks.

By Muntazir Abbas
ET Telecom
November 17, 2020, 11:13 IST
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NEW DELHI: Homegrown optic-fibre cable (OFC) makers have sought benefits under the Centre's prestigious production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme following India's aggressive roadmap for next-generation technologies particularly the fifth-generation or 5G networks.

“We are demanding the inclusion of optical fiber cables and preform in the list of telecom items as India has now the potential to become fiber capital of the world with the PLI. The optical can be a showcase for India for the world,” NK Goyal, chairman of the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association (TEMA) told ET Telecom.

Early this month, the Cabinet has approved Rs 12,195 crore worth of stimulus as a part of the ambitious production incentive scheme for the telecom sector that includes localised manufacturing of core transmission gear including access and customer premises equipment, routers and switches.

The Narendra Modi government, through industry inducement, aims to attract large investments from investors worldwide to help domestic companies seize the emerging opportunities and become dominant players in the export market.

The immense scope of OFC production, a backbone of futuristic technologies such as fourth-generation (4G) and fifth-generation (5G) networks within India and deployment including in several other developing nations, according to the industry stakeholders have been overlooked by the Centre and expecting a course correction. The Delhi-based group is also likely to send a formal letter to the Prime Minister Office (PMO) seeking immediate intervention.

“India has the potential to become the global leader in the industry vertical. But China is transferring parts of its huge capacities partly to Vietnam and other countries to bypass import restrictions. So at one point, this may damage the Indian industry. Giving PLI benefits to OFC makers shall lead the industry to greater heights,” Sanjay Aggarwal, president, PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry said.

India requires 2 f-km (fibre kilometre) per person to achieve optimal connectivity to towers with 100% Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) penetration and to be fully able to 4G and 5G ready, Aggarwal said and added that the industry is looking for a 5% benefit on the sales in each of the three verticals on an increase from the base year (2019-20) sales.

“As we take Digital India to the next level, we can transform India as an economic superpower, address inequality and increase efficiency across sectors and socioeconomic class. To achieve this, it is imperative to put significant focus on investment on digital infrastructure creation to support BharatNet and other broadband connectivity efforts,” Anand Agarwal, group chief executive at Sterlite Technologies said.

The Delhi-based telecom infrastructure group too expressed the need to provide impetus to fibre-based network.

“In view of the forthcoming technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 5G, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, the telecom infrastructure has a very important role to play. To meet these emerging technologies, tower densification and fiberisation will be required to support the new applications. The domestic manufacturing of preform and OFC cables will result in the faster rollout of 5G networks in India, leaving out the dependency on China,” Tilak Raj Dua, director-general, Telecom and Infrastructure Providers Association (Taipa) said.

Of the 5.25 lakh telecom assets or towers in the country, nearly 30% of them are fiberised, which is way lower than China’s 80% and the United States’ 90%. With India's 5G launch anticipated in 2023, the fiberisation rates are expected to surge from 2021 onwards," according to the research firm EY finding, and is anticipated to reach up to 60% in the next three years.

“Optical fibre, preform and OFC cables should be included in the PLI scheme as this is the vertical where India can lead the world,” Sandeep Aggarwal, co-chairman of the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (Tepc) said, and added that the government should encourage the Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) vendors to beat the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and the Taiwanese at their own game of passing on the government benefits for export purposes enabling the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) in a true letter and spirit.

Aggarwal added that since the demand for fibre is set to rise to meet the 4G and 5G aspirations, the telecom carriers would like to accelerate deployment at a reduced price, which should be the ultimate goal of the Centre’s ambitious scheme with the inclusion of OFC vendors.

“Manufacturing of world-class OFCs and their rapid deployment is one of the most critical elements of the value-chain in building robust and scalable digital network to meet the demand for high-speed data and quality of service,” Ashish D Jain, COO & Executive President, Telecom Business at Polycab India said.

Jain believes that the recent developments would push the demand and investments in OFC manufacturing, and it is the most critical time as the industry expects the government to bring OFC production in the PLI scheme.

In 2018, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has set up a target to increase fibre-footprint to 7.5 million kilometres by 2022, but following the Right-of-Way (RoW) challenges and telcos’ low investment appetite for infrastructure deployment has made the progress relatively slow.

 

Gautam

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What could be the long term implications of this move? @Gautam
Assuming it all works according to plan, this is what I can make out :

Short term :

The telecom market has many verticals(voice, SMS, MMS, Data) & horizontals(market penetration, competition in a part of the country, cost of data per unit etc.). In the last few years growth in telecom industry has happened not due to voice, SMS etc. but due to data. So growth was driven by all the horizontals in one vertical(Data). We have seen an increase in penetration, competition & reduction of cost per unit for data. We are now at a point where the vertical of data has rendered other verticals largely irrelevant.

India's overall market penetration for internet is at ~55%. Meaning ~45% of our population don't use the internet. The very young & very old of our population are unlikely to be using the internet no matter how great internet services in India becomes. That ~20% of our population will remain outside the market. Thus telecom companies have ~25% of our population as the immediate addressable market. By improving quality of services in every corner of the country & by providing cheap smartphones to the potential users that 25% becomes readily absorbable at the current level of technology. That's why you have Jio & Airtel clamoring to get their own cheap smartphones in the market.

Medium term :

The GoI is pushing for free WiFi in various public infrastructure centers like railway stations, airports, hospitals, colleges, universities etc. Most of the ones I've used so far seem to be based on 4G LTE small cell RRUs. They essentially offer the same speed as the average service provider, because they use the same hardware. Thus people who spend extended periods of time in such facilities are likely to offload a lot of their daily data usage on such free WiFi networks. This in turn would reduce the data packs they would buy from their service providers. Service providers provide cheap data, GoI provide free data. The choice isn't hard. There will come a time when the market penetration will saturate. So what does the service providers do ? Target a place where there is no free public WiFi : user's home.

You will notice a push from Airtel & Jio to get more people on fibre networks. The fibre network are getting bundled with TV, OTT services(Netflix, Amazon Prime) etc. Assuming customers adopt it a lot of our people will use free WiFi when outside & use fibre data at home. The dependence on SIM enabled data would reduce drastically but not completely.

Long term :

When all other options are exhausted service providers will be left with only the hard option. The only differentiator that will remain is speed. India has rather poor average internet speeds throughout the country. This is in part due to our massive user base, the stress put on our servers is unimaginable for most countries. We need a lot of submerged optical cables & in-country data servers or we need to offload a significant part of our server load to satellite internet services. Both these options will cost a bomb, the later option remains untested at our scales. But when you have nothing else to set yourself apart what do you do ?

Again you can see Jio trying to go the 5G O-RAN way to differentiate themselves. Airtel in turn seems to be going the satellite internet way with OneWeb satellites. In any case, interesting times ahead.
 

mackriss20

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About the safety among Core Networks and Access networks(5GC -- RAN), (1) How a stable consultation is created? What do safety needs - integrity & authentication only? (2) Does it use IPsec or DTLS? (3) Does the safety consultation has a time latency limit? (4) What is the potential of the gadgets used to create the stable consultation?
 

Gautam

Team StratFront
Feb 16, 2019
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Desi 4G core maker PertSol bags LBS contract from BSNL


PertSol (Pert Telecom Solutions Pvt Ltd) has bagged a contract worth Rs 30 crore from state-run BSNL to deploy Location Based System (LBS) for the telco’s pan-India 2G/3G/4G network.

By Danish Khan
ET Telecom
January 21, 2021, 16:21 IST

NEW DELHI: PertSol (Pert Telecom Solutions Pvt Ltd) has bagged a contract worth Rs 30 crore from state-run BSNL to deploy Location Based System (LBS) for the telco’s pan-India 2G/3G/4G network. The deployment of LBS was mandated by the telecom department in 2014 under the Unified Access Service License (UASL) rules.

“We will ensure timely implementation. LBS once commissioned will help BSNL to meet DoT LBS requirements/mandates and will also enable BSNL to provide value added services such as fleet management, etc,” Mitesh Vageriya, CEO of PertSol told ET. “The entire platform is in line with Aatmanirbhar Abhiyan of Govt of India.”

PertSol’s LBS solution, called iLocator, is already being used for various State Emergency Services such as UP112, Mumbai100, CG112, MP100, MERS112 and is being implemented in Gujarat112.

Mumbai-based PertSol already provides Lawful Interception System, IP Log Management, Fraud Management and Revenue Assurance and Remote Access System to BSNL in India.

Incorporated in 2014, PertSol claims that it has 100% in-house telecom solutions to provide packet core for 3G and 4G LTE data services. It also claims to offer IMS (VoLTE) and the entire packet core stack.

State-run C-DOT (The Centre for Development of Telematics) PertSol, and Mavenir have so far claimed that they can provide core for BSNL’s upcoming 4G network.

“...we further are also geared up to support BSNL in realising their dream of local core,” Vageria said.

In order to implement LBS, the ministry of communications and IT, had come out with a new notification on May 31, 2011, which focused on the amendment of the Unified Access Service License (UASL) agreement for security-related concerns for expansion of telecom services in various zones of the country.

BSNL had in January 2020 issued the tender for planning, engineering, supply, installation and annual maintenance of location based system and its interaction with LIS system and central monitoring system (CMS) for its network in North, East, South and West zones.

The tender was a turnkey implementation of the LBS System in the North, East, West and South zones comprising of GMLCs, SMLCs, SASs & E-SMLCs for about catering to the network of about 1200 BSCs, 500 RNCs and 10000 e-Node Bs across all zones.

Desi 4G core maker PertSol bags LBS contract from BSNL - ET Telecom
 

Gautam

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Airtel ready to offer 5G with 4G bands, needs mid-band for true 5G speeds, says CEO Vittal


Airtel ready to offer 5G with 4G bands, needs mid-band for true 5G speeds, says CEO Vittal

By Danish Khan, ET Bureau
Last Updated: Jan 28, 2021, 02:01 PM IST

Synopsis

Airtel said that its 5G is capable of delivering 10x speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency when compared to existing technologies. Specifically, in Hyderabad, users were able to download a full length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G phone.



Bharti Airtel is preparing for a 5G battle with Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio and has claimed its end-to-end readiness to launch the high-speed technology in the country immediately after the availability of "adequate" spectrum. It has demonstrated live 5G services on its commercial 4G network in Hyderabad using 1800 MHz band.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco said that it can commercially launch 5G services without the mid-band with the help of existing 4G spectrum bands but it will wait for the government to release 5G spectrum, especially in the mid-band.

Analysts said that Airtel is looking to position itself as the main 5G telecom operator in India. The announcement made by India's second largest telco follows Mukesh Ambani's claim that Reliance Jio will launch 5G using its own technology in the second half of 2021.

Gopal Vittal, chief executive office of Airtel, said that the telco can commercially launch 5G services without the mid-band as its network now fully supports the high-speed technology.

“When we launch 5G and make it available commercially, it must have a full power of 5G instead of marketing. Delivering experience is a must and you need more spectrum, especially in the mid-band. That doesn’t mean 1800, 2300 and 2100 MHz can’t be used...true 5G will be enabled through mid-band," Vittal added.

He, however, added that it is premature to launch 5G using existing 4G bands since the 4G ecosystem for devices and applications is fairly matured. “We have been working on this since last one year to make our networks 5G ready. It is a flick of a button. It is important to have the right amount of spectrum for true 5G,” he further added.

"This seems to be a response to the competition in the market. Any significant deployment and use of 5G services will probably have to wait till after the auction of 5G spectrum," said Mahesh Uppal, director at Com First, a telecom consultancy.

The Sunil Mittal-led said that there won’t be a significant change in its capex since existing capex is largely enabling the 5G network.

Randeep Sekhon, chief technology officer of Bharti Airtel said that there are already a million 5G devices active on the telco’s network, which are broadly priced in the range of Rs 25,000.

“Pricing will play an important role and we feel that prices need to fall between Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 range for mass uptake. 4G was successful due to lower prices. We will work with all device partners to bring 5G smartphones to support all new and existing bands and technologies like dynamic spectrum sharing,” Sekhon said.

Airtel, however, reiterated the need for the adoption of global 5G standard in India for the 5G roll out and for a flouring ecosystem of applications and devices.

“The more widely embraced ecosystem, more innovation can happen. That doesn’t contradict make in India. We also embrace it fully and encourage partners to make it in India. The ecosystem should be a common global ecosystem to be able to get lower prices and interoperability. That’s an advantage of the standard-based ecosystem,” Vittal said.

Airtel is also exploring OpenRAN technology for the deployment of 5G along with existing 3GPP-approved NSA (Non-Stand Alone) and SA (Stand Alone) ways of deploying the technology.

“We are happy to adopt any technology that can give us lower cost and best quality and experience. 5G is moving towards open and interoperable interfaces across the world. Traditional and newer players are embracing open standards,” Vittal said.

Sekhon said that Airtel is engaged with several companies to explore the possibilities of the OpenRAN technology for 5G in India.

Jio, on the other hand, is looking to deploy 5G using SA with the help of its own 5G core.

Airtel also called for an ecosystem development for 5G technology in India, which can play a crucial role to drive innovation and 5G use cases.

“Some innovations and use cases will be developed by us and some by partners. 5G is not only for speeds and will not be the best use of the technology,” Vittal said.

Asked if Airtel will charge premium for its 5G services in India, Vittal said it is too early to decide on the pricing. He, however, added that ARPU in India is low and needs to reach Rs 200 and then Rs 300 over a period of time.

Airtel ready to offer 5G with 4G bands, needs mid-band for true 5G speeds, says CEO Vittal
 
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