Bharat 6G Alliance

Context:  Recently, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) launched Bharat 6G Alliance to Drive Innovation and Collaboration in Next-Generation Wireless Technology (6G). Background: Evolution from 1G to 6G
Generation Description
  • Introduced in the late 1970s, it offered voice calls with low sound quality and coverage. No roaming support or data services were available.
  • Introduced in 1991, it marked the transition from analog to digital signals.
  • Allowed roaming, offered small data services like SMS and MMS at around 50 kbps.
  • Introduced in 2001, it brought faster data transmission, mobile internet access, email, video calling, web browsing, and music to mobile phones.
  • Introduced around 2010, it provided high-speed, high-quality voice and data services with lower latency compared to 3G.
  • Lower latency, faster download speeds, and increased connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Still in development, 6G aims to improve upon the capabilities of 5G with zero lag communication, advanced services like extended reality (XR) and mobile hologram, and seamless remote operations.
    • Expected commercialization could be around 2030.
About Bharat 6G Alliance (B6GA):
  • B6GA is a collaborative platform consisting of public and private companies, academia, research institutions, and Standards development organisations.
  • It will forge coalitions and synergies with other 6G Global Alliances, fostering international collaboration and knowledge exchange.
  • Objective: 
    • To understand the business and societal needs of 6G beyond technology requirements.
    • Promote high-impact open research and development (R&D) initiatives.
    • To facilitate market access for Indian telecom technology products and services.
    • Enabling the country to emerge as a global leader in 6G technology.
  • Significance: 
    • Promote technology ownership and indigenous manufacturing.
    • Create a culture of technology co-innovation.
    • Promote the development of Intellectual Property (IP) creation of 6G technology.
Bharat 6G Project:
  • Objectives:
    • Establish India as a global leader in affordable 6G telecom solutions
    • Identify priority areas for 6G research based on India’s competitive advantages
  • Phases:
    • Phase 1 (2023-2025):
      • Support explorative ideas and risky pathways
      • Conduct proof-of-concept tests
    • Phase 2 (2025-2030):
      • Develop promising concepts into use cases
      • Establish intellectual property and implementational IPs
      • Create testbeds leading to commercialization
  • Apex Council: The Government has also appointed an apex council to:
    • Oversees the project’s implementation
    • Addresses standardisation and spectrum identification
    • Creates an ecosystem for devices and systems
    • Determines finances for research and development
Status of Digital ecosystem in India:
  • Telecom Market:
    • India ranks as the second-largest telecom market globally with 1.2 billion digital subscribers.
    • Over the past nine years, India’s digital economy has grown 2.5 times faster than the national economy.
  • Internet and Broadband Expansion:
    • Broadband users have soared from 60 million to 800 million, while internet connections have risen from 250 million to 850 million.
    • Both the government and private sector have laid over 2.5 million km of Optical Fiber to enhance connectivity.
  • Digital Connectivity:
    • India is recognized as the most connected democracy worldwide.
    • Each day, 70 million e-authentications and over 8 billion UPI transactions are conducted monthly through the Unified Payment Interface.
    • The government has facilitated direct benefit transfers, sending over ~28 lakh crore directly to citizens.
​​Government Initiatives: 
  • BharatNet Project: It seeks to provide connectivity to 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) through optical fibre. It is implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL).
  • Kerala Fibre Optical Network (KFON): Under it, Kerala government provides internet connections free of cost to 20 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families.
  • Telecom Technology Development Fund (TTDF) Scheme: It was launched by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) in 2022.
Challenges Faced by the Telecom Sector:
  • Financial Struggles: The sector is grappling with poor financial health, including declining gross revenue. Gross revenue has dropped by 15% to 20% for the year 2017-18 over the preceding year for the incumbents and overall sector revenue has dropped.
  • Spectrum Scarcity: The availability of spectrum is limited, and the delayed allocation of spectrum for 5G technology has hindered sector growth. Available spectrum is less than 40% as compared to European nations and 50% as compared to China.
  • Insufficient Fixed-Line Penetration: The Indian network does not have very much fixed-line coverage, while most developed countries have a high penetration of fixed lines (telephone lines connected to a nationwide telephone network via metal wires or optical fibres).
    • There are fewer than 25% of towers in India connected to fibre networks, compared to more than 70% in developed nations.
  • Intense Competition and Tariff Wars: The entry of Reliance Jio has sparked intense competition among telecom operators, leading to tariff wars and reduced profit margins. This financial strain has delayed further investments in the sector.
  • Inadequate Telecom Infrastructure in Semi-rural and Rural Areas: The lack of infrastructure, including issues related to power supply, poses challenges for service providers. In India, adequate tele density has been achieved, but there is a large discrepancy between penetration in urban (55.42%) and rural (44.58%) areas.
  • Revenue Reduction from New Technologies: The emergence of various applications like WhatsApp, OLA, and Uber has diminished revenue for the telecom sector. These applications operate independently, without requiring partnerships with telecommunications companies.
  • High Licence Fees: The licence fee, including the Universal Service Levy (USL), stands at eight percent of the Adjusted Gross Revenue, making it one of the highest in the world.
  • Low Broadband Penetration: The low penetration of broadband services in the country is a cause for concern. As per International Telecommunication Union (ITU), broadband penetration in India is only 7%. 
Way Forward:
  • Implement National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP): Prioritise the implementation of the NDCP, which emphasises the establishment of a National Digital Grid, collaborative mechanisms for rights of way, and removal of approval barriers.
  • State Governments’ Role: State governments should actively participate in setting up adequate telecom infrastructure to support the objectives of the NDCP. They should collaborate with central authorities and private stakeholders to expand connectivity in rural areas.
  • Improve Rural Connectivity: Increase optical fibre and fixed-line penetration in rural areas to bridge the digital divide.
  • Facilitate Entry and Exit of New Players: Create a favourable environment for the entry and exit of new players in the telecom sector. This will encourage competition, innovation, and investment, leading to improved services and affordability for consumers.
  • Reduce Licence Fee: Lower the licence fee, which is currently one of the highest in the world, to alleviate financial burdens on telecom operators.
  • Sharing of Infrastructure: Sharing telecom infrastructure allows operators to optimise their capital expenditure (capex) as a significant portion, around 40% to 60%, is typically used for setting up and managing infrastructure.
Difference between 5G and 6G:
Aspect 5G 6G
Speed Up to 10 Gbps Up to 1 Tbps
Latency Low latency (10 ms) Ultra-low latency (<1 ms)
Spectrum (Major Frequency bands) 24 GHz to 100 GHz 95 GHz to 3 THz (Terahartz) can operate on a higher frequency than 5G
Use Cases Accelerate adoption of cloud gaming, AV/VR technology, Internet of Things, etc. Support high-performance computing, Remote-controlled factories, self-driven cars, smart wearables
Connectivity Connecting billions of devices Connectivity between virtual and physical world
 News Source: PIB
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