DoT Official VL Kantha Rao MWC 2023 Jio Airtel BSNL

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Indian telecom operators have surpassed the three-year 5G network rollout target given to them within six months and now the government is making efforts to enhance the adoption of 5G applications across various key segments, a senior government official said.¬†Department of Telecom (DoT) Additional Secretary VL Kantha Rao told PTI at the “India Evening” event on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress 2023 (MWC 2023) that the government has hosted over 50 companies at the India pavilion and the delegation is here to showcase indigenously-developed 4G and 5G technology stack.

“When the spectrum was allocated to telecom service providers for 5G rollout, we gave a minimum rollout obligation saying that within one year they have to cover a few cities within three years, a few towns and so on and so forth. I’m glad to say that in the first six months of the 5G rollout, they have surpassed all the targets that we have given them for the next three years,” Rao said.

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He said the rapid rollout of the 5G network in India shows that telecom service providers in India have seen the opportunity of 5G.

“They have set up more than one lakh sites in 350 towns. They have even announced that by the end of this year, they will cover majority of the towns in the country. So this is a big plus for the rollout of 5G services in India,” Rao said.

Both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have been rolling out a 5G network across the country. However, debt-ridden Vodafone Idea is awaiting fundraise post which it will infuse capital for rolling out 5G services.

Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said that state-owned BSNL will start 5G services by April 2024.

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Rao said that more than rolling out 5G services for consumers, it is very important that there is a rollout of 5G use cases for industry, education, health, agriculture and all the other sectors because 5G is not just about faster video download or watching movies.

“It is also about enterprise solutions. A lot of industries can ride on 5G. We have a set of 100 5G use cases documented and circulated to most of the stakeholders. We have been requesting ministries and private sector industry to adopt these 5G use cases. That is the next challenge and we are working very hard on that,” Rao said.

Talking about the developments at Mobile World Congress 2023, he said the very fact global telecom industry body GSMA has recognised India’s leadership under the government leadership award shows the kind of public-private sector partnership happening in India.

He said GSMA has recognised the way both the government and the industry are working together in developing telecom products in India to supply to the rest of the world.

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“The latest example is that the 5G stack is now fully developed in India, ready to be deployed and ready to be exported to any part of the world. We have also developed an end-to-end 4G stack. We have tested it for about 1 million calls and recently upgraded to 10 million calls.

“And now we have a mature 4G stack that is getting deployed in India and also other parts of the world. The 5G stack story is what we have come here to tell the world,” Rao said.

He said that global players are showing interest in partnering with Indian technology companies.

“I was visiting one of the Indian companies [at MWC]. They said that the biggest chipmaker of the world has come to the stall and tried to find out what kind of chips are being made in India and whether they can work with the Indian chip design team in developing the future chips. This is a big compliment to the Indian design work that is happening,” Rao said.

He said that the government is encouraging design-making by adding the DLI (design-linked incentive) component to the PLI (production-linked incentive) component.

“In PLI, we have added the DLI of an additional incentive of 1 per cent to be given. More and more design-based companies are coming into the scheme. This is how the Indian government is able to support a large ecosystem of tech startups and innovators in India, especially in the telecom sector,” Rao said.¬†

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