A panel set up by the Department of Telecom to prepare a roadmap for rollout of 5G telephony in India expects the service to be operational by 2020.

The nine-member Steering Committee, headed by AJ Paulraj, recommended releasing additional spectrum for 5G services. It submitted its report to Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan on Thursday.

The report said 5G services would have a cumulative economic impact of over $1 trillion by 2035. While the US is likely to deploy 5G services later this year, or in the first quarter of 2019, the India rollout may begin by 2020.

Globally, 5G technologies are expected to evolve to a full range of services by 2024, the report said, adding that by acting early to embrace the 5G opportunity, India can accelerate the dividends and potentially also become an innovator.

On the financial side, the committee has suggested a broad planning estimate of ₹300 crore for the first year, ₹400 crore for the second, ₹500 crore in the third year, and ₹400 crore in the fourth.

“The 5G programmes will require funding by the government. At present, there are only national figures available. The actual funding requirements can only be finalised once well-defined project proposals with budgetary justifications are submitted to DoT,” the Committee said.

A high-level forum was set up by the government in September 2017 to articulate the Vision for 5G in India, followed by the constitution of a Steering Committee.

The committee has also made suggestions on regulatory policy; education and awareness promotion; application and use case labs; participation in international standards; development of application layer standards; and major 5G trials.

Free more spectrum

Under the spectrum policy, the committee has suggested that India’s spectrum allocation for public wireless services should be enhanced significantly on various frontiers to realise digital infrastructure as a core utility under Digital India. Also, the cost of spectrum relative to per-capita GDP is high and it is important that India builds a more favourable spectrum policy in the 5G era.

The committee has suggested that the government announce its policy by December 31, and issue necessary notifications. It has also asked for setting up a Standing Committee with five-year term to advise on building spectrum technology infrastructure.