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What is the indigenous 5G testbed?



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Much has been said and written about the application of 5G for businesses and individual users. While you and I look forward to a more immersive experience with our collaboration devices and tools, businesses in India are facing a looming capacity challenge.

Indian companies are now at an early stage of discovering the potential of 5G, as it relates to industrial automation, process management, private networks, etc.

Taking a step towards self-sufficiency in this direction, the government recently announced a 5G testbed project for start-ups and industry players in India.

The objective of the project is to provide start-ups and industry players with an end-to-end test bed to test and validate their equipment for 5G services.

The idea is to allow R&D teams from Indian universities and industry to test and validate their prototypes and products locally. Engineers examine 5G applications in a test bed environment before commercial deployment. This allows them to understand how the network will perform in real-world applications.

In the absence of the native 5G test bed, Indian start-ups and industry players would have to take their products overseas for testing and validation.

According to Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, the indigenous 5G testbed would help digitize the economy, boost the start-up ecosystem, improve governance, make life easier and to facilitate business.

A collaborative project led by IIT Madras, the 5G testbed has been set up at a cost of around Rs 220 crores. It will be available in five different locations across the country. Other institutes collaborating in the project are IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Kanpur, IIT Bombay, Indian Institute of Science, Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research and Center of Excellence in Wireless Technology.

The test bed includes a 5G base station and user equipment nodes with support for most 5G-related services to replicate the deployment in a similar real-world environment. These services include enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-low latency communication, and massive machine-type communication, including narrowband IoT services.

Likewise, the testbed supports sub-6GHz and mmWave operating frequencies. With the 5G testbed, local 5G equipment manufacturers would be able to design and manufacture high-end communication components such as baseband processing units, remote radio heads, RF modules, core networks, network interconnects and baseband algorithms and software.

That said, the indigenous 5G testbed would allow industry players to develop a fully functional 5G stack that would be essential for the rollout of India’s own 5G standard, called 5Gi.

Ashwini Vaishnav, Minister of Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, recently said that the native 5G stack is in the works and will be ready by September-October this year.