Indian 5G launch delayed by spectrum allocation process
5G services are expected to be deployed in some of the main Indian cities during 2022, local press reported citing information from the Indian government.
The cities which are set to get the 5G technology in 2022 include Gurugram, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jamnagar, Ahmadabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune, and Gandhinagar.
Local carriers Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea, have already established 5G trials sites in these cities. “These Metros and big cities would be the first places for the launch of 5G services in the country, next year,” the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said.
The government of India expects local operators to launch 5G service in some parts of the country by mid-August 2022, according to a recent press report.
According to the report, a source with knowledge of the matter said that a limited 5G launch is possible by that date if the country’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) provides clarity around available spectrum. The report also said the Indian telecom industry needs to be given an assurance that the reserve price for 5G spectrum would be reduced. “If these issues are sorted out at the earliest, telecom operators can place orders for equipment and make all the arrangements around rollout, so that when auctions are conducted in April-May, telcos are prepared to launch services within a short span of time,” an industry source said.
Telecom industry body COAI has recently asked the government to cut the reserve price of spectrum by more than half, for the proposed auction especially for 5G services.
The Indian government is expected to award frequencies for the provision of 5G services in April or May 2022, the country’s Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw recently 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 and 2.5GHz bands due to the high reserve price for this frequency band.
Indian operators Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have recently received a six-month extension from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to conduct 5G trials. With this extension, the carriers will be able to carry out 5G trials until May next year. Initially, telcos had been authorized to test 5G technology until 26 November.
In May, the DoT had awarded 5G trial spectrum for six months in the 700 Mhz, 3.5 Ghz and 26 Ghz bands, paving the way for local carriers to partner and develop 5G use cases.
Jio is currently testing its own indigenously developed 5G RAN and Core technologies, while Airtel and Vodafone Idea have partnered with Nokia and Ericsson to deploy trial networks in various cities.