India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is adamant that the same will not happen with 6G since in the 3G, 4G, and 5G eras, it took too long to allocate spectrum and launch mobile broadband services. Instead of relying on markets to its east and west for future digital infrastructure, he has outlined a vision called Bharat 6G that will position India in the 6G vanguard as a nation that will define the next generation of wireless communications, be an early adopter, and be an exporter of 6G technology.
The Bharat 6G Vision Statement, a lengthy document of 186 pages, was released last week and contains the country’s strategy, which was disclosed at the time. This action is intriguing since ten years ago, India would have likely only taken such a pronouncement seriously within its own borders. The shift to software-defined capabilities in the modern communications era has made it possible for Modi’s determination to position India as a leader in the global digital communications technology sector to no longer be dismissed as merely political posturing. India has the potential to be just as influential as China was in the 4G and 5G eras (India is a hotbed of software talent and resources).
The specifics of the vision statement and plans are nothing out of the ordinary; they align with other nations’ 6G priorities, including those of the US, Japan, and, of course, China, with a focus on the spectrum, devices, the use of AI, contributions to standards and specifications, and funding for local R&D.
Here is an example of the strategy document’s vision:
India has the resources required to spearhead the 6G wave globally and take advantage of this potent force multiplier to establish itself as a top global supplier of cutting-edge, practical, and reasonably priced telecom equipment and solutions. Next-generation multi-platform networks, such as dense optical networks, tactile internet, intelligent reflective surfaces, AI/ML on the air interface and for network optimization, intelligent network operation, effective low-earth orbit satellites, user-defined virtualized air interfaces, high-altitude platform systems (HAPS), and similar technologies, must be India’s main focus. Additionally, initiatives into examining and putting into practice ways to standardize such technology and devices can add more structure and foresight to India’s 6G roadmap and help them allocate resources effectively to ensure that India plays a key role in the implementation and adoption of 6G technology.
The fact that India has managed to put itself in a position where it is very likely to have an impact on the global 6G sector is extraordinary in many ways. This has been made possible by both the influence of the private sector in India, where the mobile industry has undergone an incredible transformation over the past ten years, as well as by ongoing state efforts.
The state’s ability to exert influence stems from its determination to strengthen India’s technology sector by ensuring that more of the nation’s digital infrastructure is developed, built, and operated by Indian companies. This helps to create jobs, strengthen local knowledge and experience, and boost local economies. Underpinning this approach is the Make In India project that was initiated early in Modi’s leadership in 2014. Over the years, more and more companies have signed up for the Indian government’s production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme and established or expanded manufacturing facilities in India so they can be local suppliers, and this includes corporations in the telecom infrastructure industry.