India completed its first 5G spectrum auction last year
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in India is planning to carry out a new spectrum auction of 5G frequencies in January-February next year, a process which could include airwaves above 37 GHz, local newspaper The Economic Times reported, citing government officials.
The sources noted that frequencies in 11 bands ranging from 600 MHz to above 37 GHz are likely to be put up for sale.
“We are currently finalizing the spectrum availability and will soon send the reference to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), seeking recommendations for pricing and other modalities,” an official said.
“Around 88,000 megahertz of spectrum is available in above 37 GHz bands. Apart from this, all the unsold spectrum in the last auction will be again put up for sale,” said another official.
India had completed its first 5G spectrum auction last year. Reliance Jio walked away with the most spectrum, having spent $11 billion. Airtel won spectrum worth $5.4 billion, while Vodafone received spectrum worth $2.4 billion. Finally, Adani purchased spectrum worth approximately $27 million, which it will use to offer private 5G network services.
Also, the future spectrum auction will include the frequencies that are set to expire in 2024, according to the report.
The report highlighted that spectrum in the 900 and 1800 MHz bands for eight circles including UP (East), UP (West), West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, J&K, North-East and Odisha is expiring in 2024. The spectrum is currently being held by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
Bharti Airtel recently announced that its 5G service is now available to customers in 3,000 cities and towns in the country. The company said that all key urban and rural parts of the country have unlimited access to Airtel 5G Plus service.
In October 2022, Bharti Airtel initially launched 5G services in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Siliguri, Nagpur and Varanasi.
The carrier is currently using equipment from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to provide 5G services. The Indian operator had secured a total of 19,800 megahertz of spectrum in the 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 3.3 GHz and 26 GHz bands in a recent auction carried out by the Indian government.
Rival operator Reliance Jio Infocomm recently claimed its 5G footprint reached 2,300 cities and towns across India at the end of Q-1 Jio has already deployed over 60,000 5G sites across the 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands.
However, according to the carrier’s website, Reliance Jio Infocomm is currently offering its 5G service in 2,691 cities across 35 states in India.
Meanwhile, Vodafone Idea is expected to start deploying 5G in the near future, local press reported, citing Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla group and one of the shareholders of the mobile carrier.
Vodafone Idea is the only private telco in India that still does not offer 5G service and has been experiencing a decline in its subscriber base in recent months due to the delay to launch such technology.
In February, Vodafone Idea’s CEO Akshaya Moondra had said that the telco was in advanced talks with telecom equipment vendors for its 5G rollout strategy.