The Government of India's Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India call isn't just restricted to corporates, SMEs and start-ups. Interestingly, the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), an independent Indian Government owned telecommunications technology development centre, has taken the task seriously. Competing against the world's leading telecom equipment manufacturers, C-DOT has indigenously designed and developed the 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) Core.
A backbone of 5G networks, 5G Core establishes reliable, secure connectivity to the radio access network from where end users are connected and provides access to its services to users. Core is the heart of the overall 5G network hence needs to be fully secure and robust. It handles essential functions in the mobile network, such as connectivity and mobility management, authentication and authorisation, subscriber data management and policy management, among others.
Dr Rajkumar Upadhyay, Executive Director & Chairman, C-DOT, told Business Today, "The beauty here is indigenous because there are only a few major vendors in the 5G network business from select countries -- Nokia (Finland), Ericsson (Sweden), ZTE and Huawei (China) and Samsung (South Korea). We will be among the select few nations where the 4G and 5G indigenous technology will be available".
To show the power of C-DOT's NSA 5G Core, an end-to-end 5G call was demonstrated using this Core, which was installed at BSNL Chandigarh. Even the 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) used in demonstrating the call is developed indigenously in collaboration with VVDN Technologies, Radisys India Pvt Ltd. and Wisig Networks.
But unlike the leading telecom equipment manufacturers such as Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson, who have large teams and invest billions of dollars in research and development, C-DOT achieved this feat with an annual budget of Rs 400 crore and a small team of 200 workings exclusively on 4G/5G. Many other technologies are also developed by C-DOT using the same budget. Although the majority of work on the development of the 4G and 5G core happened over the last two years, C-DOT's institutional knowledge and expertise over the last three decades also played a key role.
Explaining the efforts that have gone into the designing and development of the 5G NSA Core, Upadhyay explained, "When the Prime Minister called for AatmaNirbhar Bharat towards making India Self-reliant during the first wave of COVID, we took this challenge seriously. Utilising our past institutional knowledge in designing next generation network for BSNL, we started working on design and development of 4G core. But at that time, we didn't have a radio access network. Today, we have designed and developed not just both 4G and 5G radios but a 4G and 5G core as well. However, for BSNL 4G rollout it wasn't just the C-DOT alone but the consortium led by TCS with CDOT and Tejas as partners that achieved the success of completing the proof of concept successfully in the BSNL network. We are hoping that BSNL will launch its commercial 4G services soon on this network"
This Tata-Group-backed consortium was led by Tata Consultancy Services, where technologies from C-DOT, TCS, and Tejas Networks were utilised to conduct proof of concept (POC) in the BSNL network. C-DOT's 4G core was deployed along with RAN from Tejas Networks, and TCS brought the other required peripheral software to build a complete end-to-end indigenous solution.
PM Modi launched C-DOT's 5G NSA Core:
The C-DOT 5G NSA Core was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2022 at Pragati Maidan, Delhi. Various 5G use cases have been implemented in collaboration with national academic institutions and local start-ups. An innovative use-case of extending remote medical assistance to the citizens was demonstrated to the PM by making video calls to Primary Health Centres in Bhora Kalan village of Haryana and Matiana village of Himachal Pradesh using the wholly indigenous 5G NSA system and e-health solutions of start-ups.
C-DOT has been keenly working towards evolving an indigenous technology framework driven by synergistic collaboration amongst R&D, academia, industry, startups and other relevant stakeholders of the Telecom ecosystem to expedite the design, development and production of globally competitive, cost-effective and market-ready Telecom technology systems for a wider reach and deployment in diverse scenarios.
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