5GNews & Analysis

A Second Round of 5G Auctions on the Anvil

If recent reports were to be believed, the government could be readying for sale of some additional airwaves in the 5G band spectrum

Prime Minister Narendra Modi rooted for “Made-in-India” technology solutions with 5G launch and the resultant digital revolution being the harbingers of a ground-up growth in the Indian economy. And by the looks of it, the government seems to be following up by auctioning additional spectrum in this space. 

Published media reports suggest that the Department of Telecommunications has already started an exercise to sell 5,500 MHz of 5G spectrum that could fetch Rs.35,000 crore. Readers may recall that the earlier round of 5G auctions fetched a whopping Rs.1.5 lakh crore. 

A report carried by ET quoted officials to suggest that the department had created a committee to bring forth a strategy to add 37.0-42.5 GHz as international mobile telecom bands that would allow telecom companies to make use of these airwaves. This millimeter wave band could come in handy for offering 5G fixed wireless access services, it said.  


When is it likely to happen?

Of course, this may take a bit of time to see the light of the day given that post the requisite approvals from the department, the files would move to a Committee of Secretaries to the central government that would then study and notify the band. 

Post the requisite approvals from this committee, the department would take the proposal to TRAI (telecom regulatory authority of India) with base price proposals for the airwaves as well as other modalities of the sale. 


Whom can it benefit most?

The companies likely to benefit from the latest effort could be those with satellite connectivity options. There’s the Bharti Group backed OneWeb as well as Reliance Jio’s partnership with SES that could be making a beeline for this new spectrum. However, there could also be telecom operators also pitching in as the spectrum can be used in multiple ways. 

The ET report quoted an unnamed official to suggest that India had actually lagged behind other countries in notifying these bands, given that several other countries including the United States have already auctioned away spectrum classified as international mobile telecom or IMT. 

Spectrum in the 37.0-43.5 GHz bands were adopted as IMT services back in 2019 at the International Telecommunications Union’s World Radiocommunication Conference. The spectrum is equally effective for rendering mobile and satellite services besides also functioning as private networks.


What price can govt. expect?

Coming to the pricing of the upcoming spectrum auction, the telecom regulator had recommended a pan-India base price of Rs.6.99 crore per MHz for the 24.5 to 28.5 GHz band for the earlier actions. So, we can safely expect the base price for the IMT auction could be in the same range. 

However, experts believe that the base price could go even higher, given that the department is obviously considering offering them to both telecom and satcom operators. Some satellite operators are already using the spectrum for their earth stations and if the band is opened for auction, there is every likelihood that they may pitch as would telecom operators. 

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