5G Launch In India Likely Delayed As Telcos Get Trial Extension For Six Months

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Currently, the telecom operators - Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, and Bharti Airtel are engaged with the 5G network trials in the country. However, there is no clarity regarding the exact launch date of 5G services in the country. In the meantime, the telecom operators have received an extension of six months from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to conduct 5G trials, which is until May 2022.

 
5G Launch In India Likely Delayed As Telcos Get Trial Extension

As per a report by ET citing a telecom official, this extension will push the auction of 5G spectrum to the second half of next year. The official stated that the letter from DoT regarding the extension of 5G trials was received earlier this week.

5G Spectrum Auction Delayed

Initially, the telecom operators had a permit to carry out the 5G network trials on November 26. However, they cited the lack of readiness of the 5G ecosystem partners being the primary reason for the extension of the trial. Another telecom executive stated that there is a lot of work that has to be completed regarding the spectrum availability and its quantum.

Eventually, this means that the government might not be able to hold the sale of 5G spectrum in the first quarter of 2022. This makes us believe that the same could be delayed until the second quarter of 2022. Further details will be revealed by the end of this year or early next year.

In the meantime, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is yet to begin consulting to suggest the base prices and quantity of airwave bands such as the 700MHz band, 3.3-3.6GHz and millimeter-wave. The executive stated that a lot of spectrum is yet to be vacated by the ISRO and the defense.

Currently, the Ministry of Defence in India holds some spectrum in the 3300-3400MHz band and the ISRO holds the spectrum in the 3400-3425MHz band. Also, the industry hopes that TRAI will cut the starting price of the 700MHz and 3300-3600MHz bands and set forward the rational base rates for other fresh 5G bands.

 

The telecom regulator has fixed the price for the 100MHz 5G spectrum in the 3.3-3.6GHz band, and the average size needed to deploy the 5G technology will be at Rs. 50,000 crore. In May this year, FoT allocated a 5G trial spectrum for six months in the 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz bands.

The three leading telecom operators in the country - Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea have already teamed up with partners and made strategic alliances to develop a slew of enterprise and consumer use cases. However, Jio is testing its own 5G RAN and Core technologies that it developed indigenously. In the meantime, Airtel and Vodafone Idea have joined hands with Nokia and Ericsson to implement 5G trial networks in various Indian cities.

Though there is a force from the department of telecom, the telcos are not going it with 5Gi. SP Kochhar, the director-general of COAI informed that DoT stated that it will be impossible for telcos to test 5Gi amidst the ongoing trials as there a lack of equipment, devices and chipsets that support the local 5G standard.

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