Mumbai:Healthcare, agriculture, energy and smart cities are expected to spur consumer demand for 5G services in India, a top government official said.

The centre has formed a panel with three secretary-level officers, to build a holistic framework for services, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said in an interview. “The focus of the committee is to closely look at three or four sectors, from where we think 5G can have the maximum impact," she said.

“We have looked at healthcare where India is looking at a set of digital policies," Sundararajan said. “Agriculture is one and energy another. The fourth is smart cities. This forum (secretary panel) has been asked to work with those sectors and domains in the industry to make sure that we have enough business for rolling out 5G."

Chaired by Sundararajan, the 22-member committee, which was formed in September by the department of telecom, also has representation from the industry, government and academics. It is looking for an early rollout (by 2020) and aims to develop a competitive product portfolio, with the target of having a 50% share of the Indian market and 10%, globally, by 2025.

5G is the next generation of wireless access technology. It promises higher data capacity, speeds of 10GB per second and the capacity to connect billions of devices. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India floated a consultation paper in August, inviting views on the next auction of various spectrums, including 3,300-3,400 MHz and 3,400-3,600 MHz bands, which are suitable for 5G mobile services. The consultation paper was followed by an open-house discussion. However, the regulator’s recommendations are still awaited.

Sundararajan said the government would be investing in three areas—research, creating intellectual property rights (IPR) and test beds. “We have committed about Rs500 crore for 5G test beds." She believes that India’s migration to 5G will be both “market-led and policy-enabled".

“The good news is the latest entrant, Reliance Jio, already has an IP-ready network. For them to migrate to 5G is going to be easy because they have next-generation architecture already (in place). The other good thing is Jio, Airtel, Idea and Vodafone are rapidly upgrading to 4G," she said.

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