While India is yet to launch 5G, it is already planning for 6G. Minister of Communication Ashwini Vaishnaw stated that India will indigenously develop 6G technology by the end of 2023 or early 2024. The union minister asserts that engineers and scientists have already been granted the necessary permissions to work on the technology.

On Tuesday, while speaking at a Financial Times and The New Indian Express-hosted webinar, ‘New Technology and the Green Economy: Two Trends Shaping a New India’ Mr Vaishnaw said that India is working on an indigenously developed 6G technology and intends to launch it by the end of 2023 or early 2024.

"The development of 6G has already initiated. That will happen sometime in the years 2024 or 2023 end. That's the direction we're heading in.”

“We will have designed telecom software for running networks in India, manufactured telecom equipment in India, and served in India telecom networks that can go global," he said.

Apart from 6G, the minister stated that the launch of indigenous 5G is also planned, with the development of core software for the technology expected to be completed by the third quarter of next year. He also predicted that 5G spectrum auctions would take place in the second quarter of the calendar year 2022.

"For 5G spectrum auctions, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has been contacted. They've already begun the process of consultation. The process should be completed between February and March of coming year. The auction will take place in the second quarter of the calendar year 2022," he said.

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The Cabinet approved a set of nine structural and procedural reforms earlier this year to address telecom companies' short-term liquidity needs as well as long-term issues. The government had also given telcos the option of a four-year moratorium on payment of deferred spectrum and adjusted gross revenue dues as part of these reforms.

When announcing the reforms in September, Vaishnaw stated that another set of reforms would be implemented in the telecom sector to address long-standing legacy issues.

"The government's reforms, which were approved in September, have been well received. The industry is currently adjusting to the changes. Because of those reforms, a lot of stress in the industry has been alleviated. There is still much to be done. We're already working on a new set of reforms that should be ready in three to four months," he said.

Apart from the four-year moratorium, the government announced a streamlined auction calendar and the elimination of spectrum usage charges (SUC) from auctions, which had been a long-standing demand of private telcos.

In addition, the telecom sector will be able to receive 100% foreign direct investment through the automatic route, up from the previous limit of 49%.

Furthermore, the DoT will not ask for bank guarantees to secure instalment payments in future auctions, and the maximum tenure for which spectrum can be held has been increased to 30 years from 20 years, with the option of allowing the telecom service provider to surrender the spectrum after 10 years for a fee. A 0.5 percent SUC that was levied on spectrum sharing has also been eliminated.

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