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5G Spectrum sale

Jan 18, 2020, 10.08 AM IST

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5G SPECTRUM SALE

Telcos file 5G trial applications

Both Vodafone Idea and Airtel have submitted their applications with Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and ZTE, while Reliance Jio has submitted an application for trial with Korea’s Samsung, which is also the sole gear vendor for its pan-India 4G network. State-run telco BSNL, on the other hand, has submitted the application with ZTE only for trials.

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  • "We have taken a decision to give 5G spectrum for trials to all players," Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. An in-principle decision has been taken in this regard, Prasad said at an event here. "5G is future, it is speed. We will encourage new innovation in 5G," he added. Sources said all operators and vendors, including Huawei, will be included in trials.

    Indian consumers can expect to start buying the first set of 5G phones as early as in the first half of 2020, with some devices likely to be available in the first quarter, albeit at the higher end. However, the government prepares to auction 5G spectrum only in the April-June quarter.

    Vendors argue it’s too late for trials, telcos say India specific use cases are necessary. 5G tials in India were first scheduled for January 2019 but were delayed on modalities such as pricing and tenure. While the US, South Korea and China, among other major countries, are ahead on testing, India has its own set of challenges to address.

    The US has been pressuring its allies and friendly countries, including India, to bar Huawei from 5G deployments, flagging security concerns and citing the company’s alleged proximity to the Chinese government. China has on its part warned India of economic consequences if Huawei was excluded from 5G development and deployments.

    On Friday, Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the highest decision-making body in the telecom department, cleared the country’s largest-ever spectrum auction likely around March-April 2020. The auction can fetch the government at least Rs 5.22 lakh crore if telcos bid for all the 8,300 units of 4G and 5G airwaves on offer.

    Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said govt had decided to give 5G spectrum for trials to all players.

    Telecom operators must apply afresh within the next 10 days for 5G spectrum trials and airwaves will be allotted upon approval of their applications.

    “We firmly believe India needs a combination of all three spectrum band categories for 5G as it’s important to have a blend of capacity and coverage spectrum to unlock the full potential of this ultra-fast mobile broadband technology,” Durga Malladi, senior vice president & GM (4G & 5G) at the US chip maker’s R&D arm, Qualcomm Technologies, told ET.

    The Department of Telecommunications has invited bids from agencies to conduct e-auction of 8526 megahertz of spectrum worth Rs 4.98 lakh crore.

    The government is opposed to offering the 26 GHz spectrum band for 5G operations. COAI also said the Supreme Court's definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) was a misstep for the industry.

    The sector regulator has suggested a base price for 5G airwaves of Rs 492 per MHz and has proposed a minimum sale of 20 MHz blocks. That would mean a telco having to spend close to Rs 10,000 crore for 20 MHz and Rs 50,000 crore for 100 MHz--rates that the companies have said are exorbitant.

    COAI had previously said that DoT’s proposal to use low power of 7 decibel-watt for 5G base station will require 16 times more base stations to adequately provide coverage, thus making the rates of service unaffordable for the people.

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