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Qualcomm upbeat on 5G deployments in India, calls for early airwaves auction

Qualcomm sees "a very promising start” as India prepares to ring in this ultra-fast wireless technology.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 06, 2018, 08.18 AM IST
HAWAII: US chipmaker Qualcomm is upbeat on the upcoming 5G rollouts in India and has made a strong pitch for an early auction of airwaves, especially in bands where deployments are currently underway globally.

“What’s needed are spectrum auctions, and it would be good to do that in bands which are consistent with deployments happening in the rest of the world,” Durga Malladi, senior vice president, Engineering & GM (4G/5G), at the company’s R&D division, Qualcomm Technologies.

Qualcomm sees "a very promising start” as India prepares to ring in this ultra-fast wireless technology, especially since mid-band (spectrum) in 3.5 GHz along with millimetre (wave) airwaves in the 26 GHz band are under consideration for sale in India, Malladi said.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the company launching its first chipset - Snapdragon 855 - supporting 5G technology.

The government has said the 5G spectrum will be allocated in the second half of 2019. Among local telecom operators, Reliance Jio Infocomm is seeking an early auction of the airwaves, while Bharti Airtel wants it in late 2019 and Vodafone Idea the following year.

Malladi said Qualcomm has been “quite active in terms of engaging with India's telecom ministry and the sector regulator and in educating folks on what can be done on the 5G front.

“Keep in mind that among all the devices we are partnering with, quite a few of those are pretty popular in India. These devices will be there with 5G,” he said.

Qualcomm’s optimism about India’s initial 5G overtures comes after a high-level panel suggested that the government announce a 5G spectrum allocation policy by end of this year, and recommended earmarking additional airwave bands for supporting the next-gen technology which is tipped to have an economic impact upwards of $1 trillion.

The high-level 5G Forum, set up by the government, has also suggested that most guidelines on regulatory matters be promulgated by March 2019 to facilitate early 5G deployments.

Telecom minister Manoj Sinha has repeatedly said that “India cannot afford to miss the 5G bus since the superfast wireless broadband technology is slated to ring in a rapid transformation in agriculture, manufacturing and social sectors where India can emerge as a global technology innovator.”

The Qualcomm executive said the challenges that are present in India on a 5G ecosystem aren’t very different from those elsewhere in the world. He also reiterated that the advent of 5G technologies would not signal the end of 4G LTE services.

(The reporter is in Hawaii at the invitation of Qualcomm to cover the company's annual tech conference)

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