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India’s 5G Infrastructure ‘Not Imported From Anywhere Else’: Nirmala Sitharaman

Washington: India has launched its indigenously developed 5G infrastructure and is ready to share it with other countries as well, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday. “The story (of India’s 5G) is yet to reach the public,” Sitharaman said in her interaction with students at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

“The 5G that we’ve launched in our country is completely standalone,” she said in response to a question.

“There could be some parts coming from, say, countries like (South) Korea, but (not) coming from somebody else. So complete indigenous technology that we can now provide 5G (to any country) who wants it,” she said.

“So, our 5G is not imported from somewhere else. It’s our own product,” Sitharaman said. “On 5G, I think, we can be immensely proud of India’s achievements.”

5G rollout in India

The next-gen network services were launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Mobile Congress on October 1. Leading telcos such as Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio has already started rolling out 5G services. While Airtel has introduced 5G in eight cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Siliguri, Nagpur and Varanasi, Jio has kicked off beta trials in four cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi. 

Jio’s 5G network has shown a top median download speed of close to 600 Mbps, while Bharti Airtel’s network has posted a top speed of about 516 Mbps, broadband speed research firm Ookla said in a report on Tuesday. The report, based on the data collected from Speedtest Intelligence, showed 5G speed variation between low double-digits (16.27 Mbps) to 809.94 Mbps, which the firm said is an indication of ongoing network calibration for the 5G service. While the 5G services were officially launched on October 1, Ookla has taken measurements since June 2022.

“In Delhi, Airtel reached nearly 200 Mbps median download speed at 197.98 Mbps while Jio almost broke 600 Mbps (598.58 Mbps) in June 2022,” the report said.

This means a two-hour high definition movie which is generally around 6 GB file size can be downloaded in 1 minute 25 seconds and a 4K movie in about 3 minutes at a top speed of 600 Mbps.

The 5G services will progressively cover the entire country over the next couple of years — Jio promises to do that by December 2023 and Bharti Airtel by March 2024.

5G has been rolled out, but there’s a catch

Despite 5G being rolled out across cities, most smartphone users are yet to experience 5G speeds due to a lack of software updates. Leading OEMs such as Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and others have not yet released a software update that will enable 5G connectivity on phones despite being in a 5G-supported city. 

Apple said in a statement that iPhone users will received the 5G software update in December, while Samsung has said that its users will be access 5G on their phones by mid-November. 

So, it appears that despite a 5G rollout by the Centre, users will have to wait till the end of this year to be able to access 5G on their phones.

(With inputs from PTI)

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