MSMEs, startups can use 5G test bed free of cost for six months: Govt

Technology for MSMEs: The indigenous 5G test bed set up by the government for experimenting and demonstrating applications and use cases of 5G products in the country will be offered free of cost to the government-recognized MSMEs and startups for the next six months up to January 2023, said Ministry of Communications. However, the use for other 5G stakeholders including industry, academia, service providers, research and development institutions, government bodies, equipment manufacturers, and others will be available at a ‘very nominal rate’. The test bed was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May this year for startups, small businesses, and other players to validate their products and solutions in 5G.

The government had earlier partnered with eight institutes including IIT Madras, IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER) and Center of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) for a collaborative project and had approved a financial grant of Rs 224 crore to it in March 2018 for establishing the test bed.

“The development of this Indigenous test bed is a key milestone step for India’s becoming self-reliant in the 5G technology domain and now leading towards 5G Aatmanirbhar Bharat…This has resulted in huge cost efficiency and reduced design time due to which Indian 5G products are likely to become market competitive globally,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

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Importantly, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in June this year had approved 43 startups and MSMEs for a grant of more than Rs 50 crore to develop technologies such as 5G core, RAN, NMS, IMS, chipsets, devices, and ICT solutions and applications for roll out of 5G services in the country, DoT had tweeted on June 30.

Meanwhile, the recently concluded 5G spectrum auction, which saw seven days of bidding and 40 rounds, generated revenues of more than Rs 1.5 lakh crore for the government. Reliance Jio had emerged as the largest bidder acquiring 24,740 MHz of spectrum amounting to Rs 88,078 crore — more than double of Rs 43,084 crore spent by Airtel to purchase 19,867.8 MHz of bandwidth while Vodafone Idea put Rs 18,799 crore for 6228 MHz of spectrum. The latest entrant Adani Data Networks of Adani Group spent a modest Rs 212 crore for 400 MHz in six cities.

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