India to Co-Develop 6G Testbed with Consortium of IIT Universities
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled India’s 6G mission, which visualizes a focused initiative for the next-generation tech in India, and the official 6G testbed project to allow research on new network technologies.
The government has launched the Bharat 6G project and appointed an apex council to oversee it. India is the second-largest telecom market globally with 1.2 billion digital subscribers. Speaking at the event, Modi said the past nine years witnessed an unprecedented digital leap, whereby India's digital economy grew 2.5 times faster than the national economy. Modi also launched the 'Call Before You Dig (CBuD)’ app to facilitate coordination between excavation agencies and underground utility owners to prevent damage to utilities due to digging.
“Over this period, the number of broadband users rose to 800 million, from 60 million, and the number of internet connections rose to 850 million from 250 million. The government and private sector together have laid over 2.5 million km of optical fibre,” he said.
Modi stressed India is the most connected democracy in the world, where 70 million e-authentications are done every day, and 8 billion UPI transactions are made every month. “India has sent upwards of ~28 lakh crore directly to its citizens through direct benefit transfers,” he said.
6G Supply Chains
In November 2021, the government formed a 22-member innovation group headed by Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman to create a vision for the 6G road-map in India. Opening up 6G airwaves is part of India’s efforts to attain a key toehold in the global supply chain for emerging technology, such as satellite and terrestrial communication gear and components. The new 6G testbed is being co-developed by a consortium of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), including Guwahati and Madras.
The project will provide an R&D platform to start-ups, researchers, industry and other broadband wireless applications in India like e-Governance, smart cities, rural Broadband or other Digital India initiatives under Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Given how 6G is expected to serve as a convergence platform for SATCOM and terrestrial networks, the Department of Telecommunications has said that India is aiming to take part in global discussions currently working on setting 6G standards and pursuing technological innovations.
Within a few months, India's 5G deployment will cross a few hundred thousand sites, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said. The average time needed for securing permissions for setting up telecom towers has come down from 222 days to just 7 days, he stressed.
The PM said the ongoing 5G rollout in India has crossed 125 cities and 350 districts. India is also becoming a hub for the export of telecom equipment, including those for 5G, he added.
New ITU Office
The prime minister also inaugurated the first Area Office & Innovation Centre of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in India. ITU is the United Nations’ specialised agency for information and communication technologies (ICT). The ITU's next World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly will also be held in India next year.
The new office will help ITU coordinate more with India and other countries in the region, said ITU’s secretary-general Doreen Bogdan-Martin. "India is a role model in the digital revolution. The innovation centre is in one of the world's best hubs for cutting-edge innovation," Bogdan-Martin said.
India has firmly set its sight on the ITU, recently winning a key segment of the elections at ITU’s Radio Regulations Board (RRB), a top body administering frequency allocation to nations and resolving disputes.