Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates India’s First 5G Testbed Today at TRAI’s Silver Jubilee Celebration
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.
The launch took place during PM Modi’s address at a programme marking the silver jubilee celebrations of the TRAI via video conferencing. The Test Bed will enable a supportive ecosystem for Indian industry and startups which will help them validate their products, prototypes, solutions and algorithms in 5G and next-generation technologies.
TRAI was established in 1997 through the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
TRAI Seeks Views on Big Data, AI Adoption to Improve Telecom Services, Enhance Network Security
Telecom regulator TRAI on Friday floated a consultation paper to seek public views on the adoption of artificial intelligence and big data to improve telecom services and enhance network securities and efficiencies. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its consultation paper on “Leveraging artificial intelligence and Big Data in the telecommunication sector” has sought views on sectors where existing and future capabilities of the telecom networks can be used to leverage AI (artificial intelligence) and BD (big data).
The consultation paper follows a reference to the regulator from the Department of Telecom in June 2019 in which the department has sought recommendation from TRAI on leveraging AI and BD in a synchronised and effective manner to enhance the overall quality of service, spectrum management, network security and reliability.
The regulator has sought opinion on risks in the adoption of AI and BD, such as unethical use, bias in data and algorithms, privacy, model instability, regulatory and legal non-compliance, as well as ways and mechanisms to mitigate risks.
TRAI has fixed September 16 as the last date for comment on the paper and September 30 for counter comments.
Back in June, TRAI chairman P D Vaghela urged telecom companies and Wi-Fi providers to work collaboratively on developing innovative business models that would unleash combined power of mobile and Wi-Fi technology to improve digital infrastructure.
He called upon telecom service providers and Wi-Fi hotspot providers to work together and come up with India-specific business models.
Studies have found that in 5G countries such as South Korea, the UK, the US, Japan, Australia and Germany, smartphone users on average consumed between 1.7 and 2.7 times more mobile data after the introduction of fifth-generation services, as compared to 4G.
Over 5 Crore Complaints Received Against Telcos Over Mobile Services in FY22, MoS Communications Says
More than five crore complaints were received against telecom operators related to mobile services during 2021-22, with about 54 per cent of them against Airtel, followed by Vodafone Idea, Parliament was informed on Friday. Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, gave data on complaints received against various telecom service providers related to mobile telephony during 2021-22, as per which the number for Airtel stood at 2,99,68,519, and for Vodafone Idea at 2,17,85,460.
The number of such complaints against Reliance Jio was 25.8 lakh.
In all, nearly 5.5 crore complaints related to cellular mobile telephone services were registered by consumers through helpline numbers of operators at complaint centres during 2021-22.
The number of complaints against state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) stood at 8.8 lakh and 48,170 respectively.
“The complaints received at complaint centres through customer helpline numbers are resolved by the concerned service provider,” the minister said.
Where the complaints are not resolved by the service providers, the complainant can approach the public grievance wing of the Department of Telecommunications. All the grievances so received are monitored and resolved through the Centralised Public Grievance Redressal and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) portal.
“The number of grievances received during 2021-22 through CPGRAMS portal was 58911, out of which 58,224 were resolved,” the minister added.
To another question, Chauhan said the number of BSNL customers who opted for network port out stood at 52.3 lakh in 2021-22, while the subscribers porting in were at 28.8 lakh.
Stiff competition in the telecom sector drove both port in and port out for BSNL, he added.
5G Should Be Priced at Premium to 4G With More Data, Overall Tariffs Expected to Rise, Vodafone Idea MD Says
Debt-ridden Vodafone Idea expects 5G to be priced at a premium with more data bundled with plans compared to 4G services at present, a top company official said on Thursday. Vodafone Idea (VIL) Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ravinder Takkar, during an earnings call, said the company has spent a significant amount in acquiring spectrum in the recently-held auctions which calls for a need to charge premium for 5G services.
It expects overall tariff for mobile phone services to go up by the year-end.
“Given the fact that a fair amount of money has been spent on spectrum, we believe that 5G should be priced at a premium to 4G. You can price it at a premium, but of course within that premium you could have a situation where a number of gigabytes that you get are more because you are consuming potentially more, given the extra bandwidth that you get in 5G,” Takkar said.
He added that the increase in data consumption on the 5G network will depend on use cases that are developed and adopted by consumers.
Vodafone Idea acquired spectrum worth Rs. 18,800 crore which includes radiowaves in the mid band (3300 MHz band) in 17 priority circles and spectrum in 26 GHz band in 16 circles for 5G services. The company also acquired additional 4G spectrum in three circles of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab.
The fresh spectrum bid adds an annual installment liability of Rs. 1,680 crore on the company.
VIL has posted marginal narrowing of its consolidated loss to Rs. 7,296.7 crore for the June quarter compared to the year-ago period, as tariff hikes boosted its realisations. The telco’s loss stood at Rs. 7,319.1 crore in the year-ago quarter.
VIL’s revenue from operations grew to about Rs. 10,410 crore in the quarter ended June 30, 2022, improving nearly 14 per cent from the year-ago period.
Its Average Revenue Per User or ARPU — a key monitorable for telecom players — stood at Rs. 128 per subscriber for the quarter, compared to Rs. 104 in Q1 FY22. This represented an improvement of 23.4 per cent year-on-year, helped by tariff hikes.
“Just to summarise that on the 4G pricing, I think there is certainly an opportunity based on the value that has been continuously provided to the consumers and how the first few price increases have been absorbed in a seamless manner, I think there’s an opportunity to do that soon,” Takkar said.
He also said the investment in the company’s network has been impacted due to liquidity issues.
VIL’s Chief Financial Officer Akshaya Moondra said the company has strategically placed bids for spectrum and its ongoing fundraising plans include capital expenditure calculation for the 5G network.
The debt-ridden firm said there is positive momentum in its fundraising exercise with promoters’ recent investment in the company.
At the end of the April-June 2022 quarter, VIL’s total gross debt (excluding lease liabilities and including interest accrued but not due) stood at Rs. 1,99,080 crore, comprising of deferred spectrum payment obligations of Rs. 1,16,600 crore, AGR liabilities of Rs. 67,270 crore that are due to the government, and debt from banks and financial institutions of Rs. 15,200 crore.
Moondra said the company has cleared a lot of bank debt and the Department of Telecom (DoT) has returned a bank guarantee worth Rs. 17,000 crore.
“We are engaged with the bank that our exposure has come down. Look at our external debt and EBITDA, we are in a very fairly comfortable position. There is a fairly long moratorium to service the government’s debt. Banks understand this and based on our discussion with them, we should be able to take it to a conclusion in the near future. We will be taking new debt primarily for investments,” he said.
Talking about conversion of interest into equity allocation to the government, Moondra said the company has confirmed an amount of Rs. 16,130 crore to the DoT and final confirmation from the department in this regard is awaited.
The government is expected to get around 33 per cent stake in VIL once the conversion of interest into equity is confirmed.
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