5G Spectrum auction in India: Supported 5G bands, expected rollout, and other things you need to know
The auction of the 5G spectrum in India is currently underway, meaning we’re now one step closer to finally putting our 5G smartphones to use. We already have a definitive guide explaining everything you need to know about 5G networks in detail. That’s the only explainer you need to read if you want to refresh your memory around 5G and get down to the nitty-gritty of spectrums, network bands, carriers, and more. In this article, we’re going to give you a low down of different spectrums and 5G bands that will be used by different carriers in India.
Which 5G spectrum bands are being auctioned in India?
A total of ten bands and over 72,000 MHz of the spectrum are up for grabs in the ongoing auction. The bands on auction are — 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3.3 GHz, and 26 GHz. It’s safe to say that most consumers in India will only experience sub-6GHz 5G i.e low and mid-band networks. These are ideal to cover a large distance with 5G service. Spectrum in the 1GHz to 6GHz range is considered mid-band, and it is considered ideal for most carriers as it can carry plenty of data over significant distances. As such, the n78 5G band (3300-3800MHz) will remain one of the crucial bands to be supported by smartphones to take advantage of the 5G network in most places.
The low band spectrum (<1GHz) is ideal to cover a large area with 5G service that ranges in speed between 30 to 250 megabits per second (Mbps). The millimeter wave falls under the third bucket of the spectrum. mmWave is very high on the spectrum chart with 24GHz band and higher frequency. The high-band tower delivers high-speed internet but the spectrum itself is quite limited, so signals can’t travel very far. In most cases, these signals travel less than a mile and are also susceptible to interference from buildings and trees, so you often end up needing a clear line of sight from your phone to the tower. The exact details of the bids aren’t out yet as the auction is still underway, but it appears that bidders have largely focused on the mid-band spectrum for optimal coverage.
The following table lists the specified frequency bands and the corresponding frequency range to be deployed in the country:
|5G bands||Frequency range|
Will your smartphone connect to 5G in India?
We expect most carriers to rely on non-standalone (NSA) 5G mode as these networks are dependent on 4G base stations and 4G core networks. This, however, doesn’t affect smartphones and 5G devices as long as they support the corresponding 5G bands. A lot of the 5G phones sold in India support all the 5G bands that are being auctioned in the country right now. It remains to be seen which carriers have purchased spectrums in different circles, but all the mid-bands seem to be popular in key circles including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Tamil Nadu, Haryana & UP, and more.
A lot of the modern 5G smartphones being sold in the country including the new Redmi K50i support both NSA and SA 5G bands including n1, n3, n5, n7, n8, n20, n28A, n38, n40, n41, n77, and n78. This also includes flagships like the iPhone 13 which supports n1, n2, n3, n5, n7, n8, n12, n20, n25, n28, n30, n38, n40, n41, n48, n66, n77, n78, and n79 bands. You may have some trouble using 5G on phones that are imported from other countries as the supported 5G bands tend to vary based on the region. It is recommended that you check the specifications sheet to see if your device supports the 5G bands that are being auctioned in the country.
When can we expect 5G rollout in India?
With the 5G spectrum auctions underway, the carriers are expected to roll out the 5G services in the country later this year at the latest. According to Information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, a total of four rounds of 5G auction has been completed in the country so far. He noted that the entire process is expected to be completed by August 14 and the 5G services in the country will start by September-October this year.
Four rounds of 5G auction has been completed. So far it is expected that the revenue generated is around Rs 1,45,000 crores. We have to complete this process by August 14 & 5G service in the country will start by September-October: Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw pic.twitter.com/JDTTrigBvD
— ANI (@ANI) July 26, 2022
We’ll learn more about the supported 5G bands by each carrier in the country as we move closer to the official rollout of the 5G services. We’ll continue to update this space with more relevant info, so keep your eyes peeled.