Shortly after 5G services were launched in India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) held in New Delhi, which will conclude on October 4, the government now plans to set up 5G labs across the country. Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the Indian government plans to set up 100 5G labs across the country, without mentioning any specific timeframe.
“We are going to set up 100 5G labs across the country. I request the telecom industry to come together and convert at least 12 of these 100 labs into telecom incubators to train students and do experiments,” Vaishnaw said at the 6th edition of the country’s marquee telecom and technology event.
The 5G labs by IT and telecom operators aren’t new. In July 2022, GE Healthcare, a global medical technology solutions provider inaugurated its 5G Innovation Lab in Bengaluru, the first for GE Healthcare across the globe. Prior to that France-headquartered IT services major Capgemini announced that it has set up a 5G lab in Mumbai to accelerate the deployment of 5G. US-based Verizon’s 5G Lab works with startups, academia and enterprise teams to work on 5G trials, hackathons, industry partnerships, and more.
Last month, the IT minister suggested that a 5G use-case lab will be set up at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) and even asked the institute to prepare a proposal on developing a 5G use case laboratory and a semiconductor laboratory at the Institute.
Meanwhile, New Delhi-based HFCL Limited , a telecom equipment manufacturer and technology provider, has launched 5G Lab-as-a-Service to accelerate the rollout of 5G solutions and services.
The lab can provide an automated test environment for the private sector, academia and government to work together on product innovations from concept to reality, the company said in a statement.
Mahendra Nahata, Managing Director at HFCL, said that the lab provides a sandbox for rapid prototyping of 5G use cases to address the needs of various industry segments that include manufacturing, transportation, healthcare and retail.
“The 5G Lab will help to create pre-integrated and pre-validated 5G solutions for low mobility large cell needed for the efficient rollout of rural mobile broadband in the country,” he said.
The government is also planning to install 25,000 telecom towers in the next two days, Vaishnaw said, adding that "₹36,000 crore have been sanctioned by the government for the installation of new towers".
The government is proactively working towards the rollout of the 5G network in India. According to analysis by GSMA Intelligence, 5G could benefit the Indian economy by ₹36.4 trillion ($455 billion) between 2023 and 2040, or more than 0.6% of the GDP forecast for 2040, reflecting the large number of 5G use cases that could be implemented in the main sectors of India’s economy.
Bharti Airtel became the country's first company to launch 5G services. The services will be available in eight cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Bangalore, and others. Reliance Jio will roll out its 5G services by the end of this month. Vodafone Idea also said, it will roll out 5G services soon, while government-owned BSNL will also join the 5G race later next year.