As telco leaders eye 5G rollout, Ambani hints at second half of 2021

The roll-out of 5G services in India is dependent on spectrum auction as telecom operators need suitable wireless frequencies to start 5G in the country

Mukesh Ambani
The zoo will be set up on 280 acres land, close to the company's refinery project at Moti Khavdi near Jamnagar. File photo.

India is eyeing a brighter future riding on a wave of technological innovations which will revolutionise its telecommunication and connectivity sectors. In short, India is eyeing the rollout of 5G, the 5th generation mobile network that enables connecting virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.

But when will it be launched? The roll-out of 5G services in India is dependent on spectrum auction as telecom operators need suitable wireless frequencies to start 5G in the country.

However, billionaire Mukesh Ambani, whose telecom venture Jio had captured the No.1 spot by offering free voice calling and data at dirt-cheap rates, on Tuesday (December 8) hinted at rolling out 5G telecom services in the second half of 2021.

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Reliance Jio has plans to launch 5G services in the second half of 2021, said Ambani at the inaugural session of India Mobile Congress. He said that it will be powered by indigenous-developed network, hardware and technology components. “Jio’s 5G service will be a testimony to your inspiring vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat,” said the RIL chairman.

Ambani said India needs policy interventions to bring smartphones to make it affordable and available everywhere. He said a faster rollout of 5G in India is also needed and that his firm Jio would pioneer the 5G revolution in the country. He said India can develop into a manufacturing hub of semiconductors, and “we cannot rely on large imports.”

Telecom gear maker Nokia said it has started producing 5G equipment in India. Nokia was the first to manufacture the 5G New Radio in India, and it’s now producing the cutting-edge Nokia AirScale massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (mMIMO) solution, the firm said.

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“Nokia Chennai factory is manufacturing the latest 5G massive MIMO equipment that is shipped to countries…Since 2008, the site has manufactured over 5 million telecom network equipment units, exporting over 50 per cent to more than 100 countries,” said Nokia, which claims to have invested over ₹600 crore since 2008 to develop the facility.

Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal said India will derive full benefit of global investments on 5G standards and ecosystems in the next two-three years, as equipment prices come down and devices become available. He said onset of pandemic has accelerated digital adoption of various products and services, and pushed digitalisation of the country.

The Indian Mobile Congress was also addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said mobile technology will be used for mass vaccination against the COVID-19 pandemic. “We need to work together to ensure a timely roll-out of 5G to leapfrog into the future and empower millions of Indians.” The prime minister also pitched for making India a global hub for telecom equipment, design, development and manufacturing.

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