Commercial 5G services will be rolled out in 13 cities in India, including the metropolises, in 2022, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said in a statement on Monday.
These cities are Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, and Jamnagar.
“These metros and big cities would be the first places for the launch of 5G services in the country next year,” the DoT said.
5G trials are being carried out by Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea in the 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands.
The companies have also demonstrated India-specific use cases in fields of education, enterprises, mobility and security.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has also released a consultation paper to seek industry feedback on various issues related to spectrum auction, such as pricing, valuation, and rollout obligation.
The minister for communications, Ashwini Vaishnav, had last month said that the 5G spectrum auction would be held in April-May of 2022.
However, the auction is likely to be delayed until July as Trai is expected to submit its recommendations only in March.
The actual rollout would depend upon industry preparedness, though the government has been keen on the Independence Day launch.
Telecom service providers have demanded that the government keep 5G spectrum prices affordable to enable maximum industry participation.
Access to adequate low-cost spectrum and easy payment terms are essential for companies to plan their investments, the companies have told the government.
The government is promoting the development of an indigenously developed 5G standard, called the 5Gi, as an alternative to the globally used 3GPP standard.
The indigenous 5G testbed has been funded by the government and developed by the Indian Institute of Technology.
The project is likely to be complete by December-end.
Telecom service providers and gear makers, however, have not been in favour of a locally developed standard as it is yet to demonstrate results on a commercial scale.
According to media reports, the 5Gi standard will be incorporated with the global standard as a part of the compromise formula.
Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters