The Indian government is expected to award frequencies for the provision of 5G services in April or May 2022, Indian press reported, citing the country’s Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
Vaishnaw said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which looks at the structure of auctions, is undergoing consultations on the matter.
He said that Trai will submit the final report about the 5G auction in February or March. “Immediately after that, we will have the auctions,” he said.
The official declined to provide a specific timeline for the upcoming auction as the timing of the spectrum auction chiefly depends on the time Trai will take to finalize its views, the minister added.
“But, today, our estimate is by April-May. I was earlier estimating March. But, I think it will take … because consultations are complex, diverse opinions are coming … ,” he said.
According to previous reports, India plans to award bands such as 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz and 3,300-3,600 MHz bands. Through the spectrum auction, operators will be also able to bid for spectrum in the millimeter-wave band.
The most recent auction took place this past March and raked in winning bids of more than INR778 billion ($10.5 billion) for 855.6 megahertz of spectrum.
While bids were received for 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands, no bids were made for spectrum in the 700 MHz band due to the high reserve price for this frequency band.
In May, India’s Department of Telecommunications authorized local carriers to carry out trials of 5G technology in the country. The entity said that the permits were given to Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone Idea and MTNL, which will carry out these 5G trials in partnerships with vendors including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance Jio Infocomm will also be conducting trials using its own technology. Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE were not included in this phase of 5G trials.
The 5G trials are expected to last for a six-month period, which includes a time period of two months for procurement and setting up of the equipment.
The permission letters specify that each carrier will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also in addition to urban areas.
5G subscriptions in India are forecast to reach 330 million in 2026, according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report. This technology will account 26% of total mobile subscriptions in the Asian country by that year, the Swedish vendor said.