India’s 5G dream gets a boost from the new budget

    Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech on 1st February gave an insight into the government’s policies towards the incorporation of the 5G network in the country. According to experts, the new budget has given a much-needed push to the acceleration of 5G.

    The auction of the 5G spectrum will happen in 2022 to facilitate the rollout of 5G services by private telecom operators in 2022-23. According to Sitharaman, 5G technology will enable growth and job opportunities across the nation. Rs 44741 crores will be invested in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) as capital for 5G spectrum and technology.

    Major players in the telecom industry such as Jio, Airtel, Vodaphone, and Idea have already started 5G trials. Last month Google invested 1 billion in Airtel to create India specific 5G network. According to Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm, the government should make the spectrum available at reasonable rates to boost the rollout process.

    “Telecommunication in general, and 5G technology in particular, can enable growth and offer job opportunities. Required spectrum auctions will be conducted in 2022 to facilitate the rollout of 5G mobile services within 2022- 23 by private telecom providers,” the finance minister said.

    5 percent of the collections under the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) will be utilized for the research and development to commercialize solutions enabling affordable broadband and mobile service.

    “Our vision is that all villages and their residents should have the same access to e-services, communication facilities, and digital resources as urban areas and their residents. The contract for laying optical fiber in all villages, including remote areas will be awarded under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model in 2022-23. Completion is expected in 2025. Measures will be taken to enable better and more efficient use of the optical fiber,” the FM added. The government will also come up with a design-led Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the 5G equipment space. Last year in June Rs 19041 crores were allocated for the expansion and up-gradation of Bharat Net. It is an initiative to connect 6 lac villages with optical fiber cable for faster internet services.

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