The government expects that the roll-out of 5G services will begin in early-2022 after another round of spectrum auction that is planned to be held after six month, according to a panel report tabled in Parliament on Monday. The Standing Committee on Information Technology pulled up the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for delay in the launch of 5G services when several countries have commercially rolled out the next-generation technology.
The telecom ministry has already announced the auction of spectrum worth Rs 3.92 lakh crore from March 1, but it does not include the desired frequency band for 5G services.
The committee has been informed that by the end of the calendar year 2021 or beginning of 2022, there will be some roll-out in India in some specific uses, because 4G should continue in India for at least another 5-6 years, the parliamentary panel, headed by Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor, said.
"From the foregoing, the committee are inclined to conclude that sufficient preparatory work has not been undertaken for launching 5G services in India.
"As such, India has not moved beyond the modest beginning stage as compared to other countries in the world," the report said. The panel said the delay in the launch of 5G services reflects poorly on planning and execution in the country.
"So, it is likely that after missing the 2G, 3G and 4G bus, India is going to miss 5G opportunities, unless time-bound action is taken in core areas where governmental intervention is required," the report said.
Telecom industry body COAI raised concern before the panel that the telecom operators submitted the applications of 5G trial in January 2020 and till date, the guidelines for trials have not been made clear. There is no set date for commencement of these trials, it added.
The DoT has informed the panel that the test bed for 5G trials is expected to be ready by October 2021.
"It is disappointing to note that the department (DoT) has hardly learnt from the past delays as the vision for 5G, which was reflected in the constitution of the high-level forum and expert committees, has not been transformed into action on the ground and is not reflected in the policies formulated by the government," the report said.