india

5G Spectrum Auction Unlikely Before 2023

‘We are targeting the 5G tender around January-March 2023.’
Megha Manchanda/Business Standard reports.

Indians may have to wait a little longer to experience the 5G technology as the spectrum auction to allot the airwaves is unlikely to happen before 2023.

According to internal consultations in the Department of Telecommunications, the auctions will be held in the last quarter of the financial year 2022-2023 (FY23), even as Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said the airwaves may be tendered by FY22-end.

“According to the new calendar for spectrum auctions, we are targeting the 5G tender around January-March 2023,” an official told Business Standard.

Usually, the telecom department, after internal consultations, sends the proposal to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, seeking its views on the subject.

The regulator, after rounds of consultations with the various stakeholders, sends its recommendations to DoT.

The recommendations range from the price to the quantum of the spectrum to be offered.

These are then vetted by the Digital Communications Commission, the apex decision-making body in the telecom sector.

After seeking approval from the Union Cabinet, the notice inviting applications is floated by the telecom department.

“It is a lengthy process and cannot happen in a couple of months. Also, the 5G trials are underway and we have to evaluate the results of those trials. The auctions will follow the due process,” the official said.

The 5G auction would include 3,300 MHz to 3,600 MHz bands along with the milimetre waves.

The base price for the 5G spectrum is around Rs 3.63 trillion.

DoT will also ask for views on the price discovery of the milimetre waves or the 2,600-2,800 MHz band. These airwaves are better suited for higher latency.

The last round of 4G auction in March, also the shortest in a decade, saw Reliance Jio lapping up more than 50 per cent of the airwaves on offer.

The company paid Rs 57,122.65 crore, with 60 per cent of this amount spent on the 800 Mhz band.

The entire spectrum offered by the government in the auctions was sold off at the base price.

Bharti Airtel bought Rs 18,698.75 crore worth of spectrum and the bulk of its purchase was in the 2,300 Mhz band.

Vodafone Idea spent Rs 574 crore.

Of the available spectrum of 2,308 Mhz, 855.60 Mhz was sold in the auctions.

A total of 37 per cent of the spectrum by quantity and 19 per cent by value was sold.

Nearly 65 per cent of the 800 Mhz spectrum on offer and 89 per cent of the airwaves offered in the 2,300 Mhz band were sold.

Both 2,500 Mhz and 700 Mhz — premium spectrum — remained unsold.

*Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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