scorecard5G spectrum auctions inch closer to reality, service rollout by August-September likely
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5G spectrum auctions inch closer to reality, service rollout by August-September likely

5G spectrum auctions inch closer to reality, service rollout by August-September likely
Business2 min read
  • 5G spectrum auctions in India are finally nearing reality, as per telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
  • Two important developments suggest that the government is preparing for 5G spectrum auctions in June.
  • Telecom companies’ concerns about 5G spectrum prices will be considered “logically”, says the minister.
  • Here’s everything you need to know about the latest updates on 5G spectrum and 5G service rollout in India.
5G spectrum auctions in India have been talked about for a long time now, but it looks like the government is firm on holding itself to its last announced plan – the first quarter of 2022.

According to telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, in a report by The Hindu, the 5G spectrum auctions in India are on track for June as planned, despite telecom operators and their lobbying groups raising concerns about high prices.

“The spectrum pricing recommended by TRAI is too high. Industry recommended a 90% lower price, and to see only about a 35-40% reduction recommended in prices, therefore is deeply disappointing,” industry group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had said reacting to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) 5G spectrum auction recommendations.


5G service rollout timeline could be optimistic, but doable

Vaishnaw believes 5G service rollout will happen in August or September, which seems a little optimistic given that telecom companies in the past have said they would need six months from the spectrum auction to roll out their 5G services.

That being said, given that telcos have been given extended time – most recently, up to May 2022 – to test their 5G networks, it could be possible for them to fast-track the commercial rollout of 5G. Or, like Jio has done in the past with beta testing its 4G-only network, telcos could roll out 5G services in a limited manner before a wider commercial rollout.

Tender invitation notices worked out already, says Vaishnaw

Giving us a glimpse into the state of 5G spectrum auctions, Vaishnaw revealed two critical bits of information – the current status of approval/feedback on TRAI’s recommendations, and that his ministry has already finished writing up a draft invitation for 5G tenders.

According to Vaishnaw, the Digital Communications Commission (DCC), under the Department of Telecommunications, will take a call on TRAI’s recommendations in the next 5-6 days. Once a call is taken, it will be communicated to TRAI.

Vaishnaw added that his ministry will consider the industry’s demands to reduce 5G spectrum prices in a “logical and systematic manner”.

Regardless of the decision taken, this means that we are actually close to a final decision being taken on 5G spectrum prices, and the auctions could indeed take place by June this year.

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