They are expected to roll out pilots on superior broadband connectivity, internet-connected household devices, analytics on traffic, congestion, vehicle nature statistics and several other advancements that would figure in a ‘Smart City’.
Recently, IIT-M displayed a video call on 5G networks built from scratch on campus. IISc, too, is purchasing commercial remote head equipment to enable 5G hotspots on campus.
“Our campus will be 5G-enabled in another six to eight months,” V Kamakoti, director, IIT-Madras told ET. “With 5G, I can put many more high-speed monitoring mechanisms inside the campus, I can enable many more applications about resources like monitoring my water circulation, electricity load distribution, remote controlling of things and I can give high speed internet to every home here.”
An interesting differentiator is that this will be indigenous 5G used in the IIT-M campus. “We will have complete control over what is happening. I will know where every packet is going,” Kamakoti said.
A testbed for 5G facilitates advanced research in the design and optimization of 5G networks. Ideas can be tested on a real-world system to understand their efficacy. Startups and other companies can interoperate and demonstrate their technology. Finally, it helps in building trained manpower in 5G, for example, by offering educational programmes and webinars based on the testbed.
At the IISc campus in Bengaluru, the 5G revolution is speeding ahead on Open Source rails. “Currently, the testbed at IISc is completely open-source and fully functional. It is being used for research, training and technology development, both internally as well as by the industry,” said Chandra R Murthy, professor in the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering at IISc.
The institute, according to IISc director Govindan Rangarajan, is also in the process of acquiring commercial remote radio heads, following which it will obtain radiation licenses and enable on-campus 5G small cell networks.
A 5G hotspot is a small base station that has all the capabilities of a cellular base station, with reduced transmitting power and coverage.
Multiple such hotspots can provide department-wide or campus-wide coverage, IISc said.
Commercial 5G cellular telephones will be able to connect with the network, and it will be possible to perform experiments and data analytics to fine-tune and optimize the network.
“We have applied to several funding agencies for grants to set up such a network, and will be able to build the network soon after the grants are approved,” Murthy added.
IIT-Kanpur has developed a baseband of a 5G base station. The design and development of the prototype has been done entirely at the institute.
“We have a strong team involved in hardware design of 4G, 5G and beyond 5G technologies,” said Abhay Karandikar, director of IIT Kanpur. “The base station design by IIT-Kanpur is part of the pan-IIT 5G testbed. Currently, we are working on the testbed project. 5G hotspots will be set up by operators as and when commercial 5G spectrum becomes available.”
The government considers the development of the 5G tech stack as a key indigenization initiative.
Recently, Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw was at the IIT-M campus to test out a Voice Over New Radio-backed video call placed on the institute’s 5G network.
Going forward, the involvement of private sector firms by creating products and services over the 5G networks is expected to generate another wave of startups and resultant jobs.