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Spectrum auction: India receives bids amounting to Rs 77,146 crore in Day 1

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NEW DELHI: India’s first auction of spectrum in five years attracted Rs 77,146 crore of bids on the opening day on Monday with Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea participating in the bidding process – a response that the government said was better than expected.

There were, however, no takers for spectrum in 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands on the first day, and the auctions will continue and conclude on Tuesday.

About 2,308.80 MHz of spectrum, that carry telecom signals, in seven bands worth nearly Rs 4 lakh crore at the reserve or start price, was offered for bidding in the auction that began on Monday.

Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Rs 77,146 crore worth of spectrum was bid on the first day but there were no takers for the airwaves in the premium 700 MHz as also 2500 MHz bands.

The response from players and the bids received surpassed government’s internal estimates, that had anticipated bids worth Rs 45,000 crore.

“The winning bids that have come till 6 PM today is Rs 77,146 crore. We thought since there are only three players, and spectrum replacement is happening…our estimation was that the bids will touch about Rs 45,000 crore, but it is a matter of assurance that it has gone as high as Rs 77,146 crore,” Prasad said.

The bidder-wise details were not available immediately. A total of 2,308.80 MHz spectrum is being put to auction, out of which there have been bids for 849.20 MHz so far, an official release said.

Bids were received in 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz bands, as players gave the prized 700 MHz band a miss on the first day of auctions.

“Total value of spectrum put to auction was about Rs 4 lakh crore. In this, 700 MHz band was a costly band, and that cost itself is Rs 1.97 lakh crore,” the minister said adding that the government will take a call on 700 MHz band, used for 5G, in case it remains unsold in the ongoing auctions.

Excluding 700 MHz and 2500 Mhz bands, the bidding accounted for 60 per cent of the spectrum that was put to auction.

The 700 MHz band went unsold during the 2016 auctions, too. During 2016, when there were seven bidders, the spectrum sold was 41 per cent by quantity and 12 per cent by value of the total spectrum put to auction. The corresponding figures in the 2021 spectrum auction so far are 37 per cent and 19 per cent respectively, with three participants.

Spectrum will be offered for assignment for a validity period of 20 years. Successful bidders can pay entire bid amount in one go (upfront), or exercise an option to pay a certain amount (25 per cent for spectrum won in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz bands or 50 per cent for spectrum won in 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz bands) upfront with remaining amount in a maximum up to 16 equated annual instalments, after a moratorium of two years.

The government will get Rs 12,000-13,000 crore in the current financial year and nearly the same amount is expected in the next fiscal.

“Not only from Government’s revenue point but also customer point of view, it assures us that more spectrum which has been bid, will lead to better services,” Prasad said. The first day of auctions saw four rounds, first two rounds at 80 per cent activity levels and thereafter at 90 per cent activity levels.

Asked which players had bid aggressively, the minister said that the government has consciously devised a mechanism where it keeps away from the auction process while the bidding is on, and e-auctioneer conducts the process in the most transparent manner.

On about future course for 700 MHz band, where players have maintained that prices are exorbitantly high, Prasad said, “the legal requirement is that once there is no auction in a band, Government will have to go to TRAI for recommendation of fresh price.”

The auction is being held in the backdrop of the pandemic which has impacted economic activity, he said.

“There was a stress we cannot deny that, and in spite of that the auction is showing encouraging results. This is an assurance,” Prasad said.

The auctions for 5G spectrum “should happen in the next financial year”, Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash said noting that many of the companies may have also set aside some reserves for 5G auctions.

India would like to have a robust 5G mechanism in place, and would encourage innovative Made-in-India products by domestic companies.

“Very soon, we will be coming up with a good ecosystem for 5G trials as well. As far as spectrum is concerned, we will make proper announcement at an appropriate time, and it will not be very late,” Prasad said.

On whether or not Chinese vendors will be allowed to participate in 5G, the minister said the norms are already in place and the government will proceed accordingly to the rules laid down.

In the 800 MHz, spectrum sold was 65 per cent, in 900 Mhz (38 per cent), 1800 MHz (41 per cent), 2100 MHz (9 per cent), and 2300 MHz (89 per cent).

“Although in 800 MHz, the spectrum sold is 65 per cent of what is available, contribution of this band to total kitty is about 50 per cent so it is more expensive,” Prakash said.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Narendra Modi inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed; says aims to roll out 6G end of decade

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NEW DELHI: India is targeting the rollout of 6G telecom network, which will provide ultra high speed internet connectivity, by the end of the decade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.

India currently has 3G and 4G telecom networks and companies are gearing up to launch 5G over the next few months.

Speaking at the silver jubilee event of telecom sector regulator TRAI here, he said it is estimated that the 5G network rollout will add USD 450 billion to the Indian economy.

“This is not just increasing internet speed but also the pace of development and creating jobs,” he said, adding the 5G technology will bring positive change in governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business.

It will boost growth in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics, he said.

Connectivity, Modi said, will decide the progress of the country in the 21st century and so modern day infrastructure needs to be rolled out.

According to the prime minister, a task force has started work on rolling out 6G network by the end of the decade.

Taking potshots at the previous Congress-led UPA government, Modi said the 2G era was symbolic of policy paralysis and corruption.

The country, under his government, has moved transparently to 4G and is now going to 5G.

Teledensity and internet users are fast expanding, he said, adding that mobile manufacturing units in India have expanded from 2 to over 200 and the country is now the world’s biggest mobile manufacturing hub.

The prime minister also said that his government has encouraged healthy competition that has led to India having one of the cheapest telecom data charges in the world.

Indigenous 5G test bed in telecom sector is an important step in India’s self-reliance, he added.

PM Modi virtually inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed costing Rs 220 crore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s first 5G testbed to enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities.

The testbed has been set up at a cost of around Rs 220 crore. Speaking at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the Prime Minister said the 5G testbed is an important step for self-reliance in the direction of critical and modern technologies.

“I invite youth friends, researchers and companies to utilise the testing facility for making 5G technology,” Modi said.

The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras.

In the absence of a 5G testbed, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.

The other institutes that participated in the project are IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER) and Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT).

The testbed facility will be available at 5 different locations.

Source: Press Trust of India

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5G now in 1947 cities across 72 countries

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NEW DELHI: Viavi Solutions said that it has released new industry data revealing that the number of cities with 5G networks now stands at 1,947 globally. Despite the pandemic, 5G cities came online at a rate of nearly two per day, with the addition of 635 new 5G cities in 2021, according to the new VIAVI report “The State of 5G,” now in its sixth year.

By the end of January 2022, 72 countries had 5G networks in place, with the newest crop of 5G countries comprising Argentina, Bhutan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta and Mauritius, which all came online in the second half of 2021. Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) has overtaken Asia Pacific including Greater China (APAC) to become the region with the most 5G cities at 839. APAC has 689 5G cities and the Americas has 419.

Not surprisingly, the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China are the countries with the most 5G cities. China now has 356 5G cities and the United States has 296. The Philippines remained in the third spot globally with a total of 98 5G cities.

Currently, most 5G networks deployed are Non-Standalone (NSA) networks, meaning that 5G equipment is added to existing 4G network infrastructure. There are currently 24 Standalone (SA) 5G networks globally, meaning that they have been built using a new 5G core network. It is widely considered that many of the next-generation use cases and monetization models associated with 5G, beyond enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will only be possible when Standalone 5G networks built on new 5G core networks are in place.

The State of 5G also highlights the growing Open RAN ecosystem, combining mobile operators as well as software and infrastructure vendors, seeking to develop an open, virtualized Radio Access Network (RAN) with embedded Artificial Intelligence (AI) control. As of March 2022, 64 operators have publicly announced their participation in the development of Open RAN networks. This breaks down to 23 live deployments of Open RAN networks, 34 in the trial phase with a further seven operators that have publicly announced they are in the pre-trial phase.

“5G continued to expand, despite the headwinds of a global pandemic,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO, VIAVI Solutions. “What comes next in 5G is the reinforcement of networks. This will take a couple of forms. Firstly, we expect to see more Standalone 5G networks, which will deliver on much of the promise of 5G, both for the operator and for the wider ecosystem of users. And secondly, we expect to see Open RAN continue its rapid development and start to become a de facto standard. VIAVI will continue to play a central role in testing those new networks as they are built and expanded.”

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Apollo Hospitals joins hands with Cisco and Airtel

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, partnered with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to create a 5G Connected Ambulance that transforms access to healthcare and save lives in emergency situations. The demonstration was conducted in Bengaluru over the 5G trial spectrum allotted to Airtel by the Department of Telecom.

The custom-designed state-of-the-art 5G Connected Ambulance is equipped with the latest medical equipment, patient monitoring applications, and telemetry devices that transmit the patient health data to the hospital in real-time. In addition, it is also equipped with onboard cameras, camera-based Headgear, and Bodycams for paramedic staff – all connected to the ultra-fast & low latency Airtel 5G network. It will be further enabled with technologies like AR/VR.

When a critical patient is enroute to the hospital and every second makes a difference, the 5G Connected Ambulance acts as an extension of emergency room and enables the following:

Always connected to the Hospital: The high-speed, low latency 5G network relays the Geo-location of every Ambulance to the hospital’s command center to ensure the nearest Ambulance reaches the critical patient to save the patient’s Golden hour time. Also, Ambulance transmits the patient’s complete telemetry data, including vitals, in real-time to doctors and experts at the hospital. This allows the doctors at ER to make faster decisions and advise the paramedics in ambulance to administer required aid while on the move. It also prepares the hospital staff to better manage the patient on arrival and save precious time.

Transports doctors virtually to the Ambulance: With real-time camera feed available, the paramedics in ambulance can use the cameras to collaborate with the ER doctors at the hospital who are equipped with technologies like AV/VR to undertake basic procedures, if necessary. The doctors can virtually guide the paramedic to carry out the procedure and save precious lives.

Ajay Chitkara, Director & CEO, Airtel Business, Bharti Airtel said: “5G is a transformational technology, and this is yet another demonstration by Airtel as to how collaborations can unlock the potential of digital platforms for the good of humanity. Healthcare is one of the most promising use cases for 5G, and we are delighted to deepen our partnerships with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to bring some innovative use cases for the Indian market.”

Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “Apollo Hospitals have been evangelists of connected ambulances and using these to reduce mortality and utilize the Golden Hour to the benefit of patients. The criticality of the ‘Golden hour’ is well known. It can mean the difference between life and death for seriously ill or trauma patients in an emergency. The Golden hour is impacted by the facilities in an ambulance and the distance from the Hospital. Studies show that an increased journey distance to the Hospital is associated with an increased risk of mortality, with a 10‐km increase in straight‐line distance associated with around a 1% absolute increase in mortality. Studies also indicate that pre-hospital time management should become a management objective. These insights propelled us to collaborate with Airtel on the 5G connected ambulance project and use 5G in order to utilize the disruption-free, lag-free connectivity it provides.”

She also said, “This will help save many lives as timely treatment can be started even in the Ambulance itself. The 5G connected ambulance is testament to Apollo Hospitals’ commitment to utilize the power to technology in healthcare for the benefit of patients.”

Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC, said, “Cisco’s partnership with Airtel, through our Country Digitization Acceleration program, is a step towards bringing the immense possibilities of 5G to life by improving the performance of critical-care applications. 5G will be a game-changer in enabling new use cases and improving efficiency across every industry and specifically in the healthcare sector, as 5G will arm doctors with actionable insights to augment patient monitoring and treatment.”

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