Indian government finally approves 5G spectrum auctions

Indian government finally approves 5G spectrum auctions

Mainstream 5G availability is likely still months, if not years, away

The government of India has finally approved a proposal from the Department of Telecommunications for 5G spectrum auctions directly to enterprises, laying the foundation for upcoming 5G networks in the region. In an official statement, the government said it would auction a total of 72097.85 MHz of spectrum with a validity period of 20 years by the end of July 2022.

The 5G spectrum auction will include spectrum across various Low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), Mid (3300 MHz), and High (26 GHz) frequency bands. The government expects telecom service providers to utilize the available Mid and High band spectrum to offer 5G-based services in the region.

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The Indian government says that the 5G spectrum auction will reduce business costs for telecom service providers. It notes:

The spectrum auction will be benefitted by the Telecom Sector Reforms announced in September, 2021. The reforms include zero Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) on the spectrum acquired in the upcoming auction, providing a significant relief to the service providers in terms of the operating cost of telecom networks. Further, the requirement of submitting a financial bank guarantee equivalent to one annual instalment has also been done away with.

In addition, the Union Cabinet has announced various reforms to facilitate ease of doing business. It has dropped the mandatory requirement for upfront payment by the successful bidder, giving them the option to make payments in 20 equal annual installments at the beginning of each year. The bidders will also have the option to surrender the spectrum after 10 years with no future liabilities.

According to the Department of Telecom’s (DoT) Notice Inviting Applications (NIA), bidders have until July 8 to submit their applications, after which the DoT will publish the ownership details of applicants on July 12. The final list of bidders will be released on July 20, with mock auctions to follow on July 22 and July 23. The actual auction will begin on July 26.

What does the 5G spectrum auction mean for the average Indian?

The upcoming 5G spectrum auction is just the first step towards mainstream 5G availability. The average Indian will still have to wait months, if not years, to get high-speed connections on their 5G smartphones. The successful bidders will likely start testing their 5G services over the next few months, and we might see limited public rollouts by year-end. A large-scale rollout should follow suit, but all of this is merely speculation for now.

There’s a chance telecom service providers will reveal a more concrete timeline following the auction. However, India’s three main carriers — Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Reliance Jio — have not shared any official information on the matter.


Source: Press Information Bureau, DoT

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.

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