Entertainment Spectrum auction nears end – When will 5G telecom rollout in India?
Spectrum auction nears end – When will 5G telecom rollout in India?
On the first day of the much-touted 5G spectrum auction in India yesterday, the Indian government netted more money than it might have anticipated. According to reports in the media, a total of Rs 1.45 crore – a record amount, by the way – went into the government’s kitty, as the four companies in the auction fray played hard ball. Reliance Jio, Adani group, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea are the four major participants in the spectrum auction. For the record, in the last spectrum sale in 2015, the government got Rs 1.1 lakh crore.
A total of 72097.85 MHz of spectrum with a validity period of 20 years is up for auction. The auction is for spectrum in various Low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), Mid (3300 MHz) and High (26 GHz) frequency bands.
Going into yesterday’s auction, Reliance Jio had put in Rs 14,000 crore as earnest money deposit (EMD). Bharti Airtel had chipped in with Rs 5,500 crore, while Vodafone Idea had put in Rs 2200 crore. Adani Data Networks, which has claimed it is in the auction only for 5G private network, had made Rs 100 crore as EMD. This amount usually indicates a company’s seriousness in the auction. More the EMD, more the interest.
5G services, when they arrive, are expected to be about 10 times faster than 4G.
India’s previous spectrum auctions have been controversy-ridden. Not the least the 2G auction, which snowballed into a major national issue and was eventually one of the reasons for the fall of the then UPA government as the then Telecom Minister, DMK’s A Raja, was accused of making lakhs of crores of rupees in bribes.
Another controversy was unleashed a few years later when Reliance Jio, a new entrant to telecom services then, was allowed into voice telephony services even though the permission for the company was allegedly only for broadband-only airwaves. What happened after that is history, as Reliance Jio, with competition-killing pricing has disrupted the telecom sector beyond recognition.
This time around, the last minute entry of the Adani Group into fray for auction has triggered a lot of controversy. Adani, however, has claimed that it wants to buy airwaves for private telecom networks for its ports, airports and power stations for high-quality connectivity and cyber security. It has made bold the claim that it won’t enter the regular telecom services market. But there is no guarantee that it will not have a rethink on its decision. It can, in any case, offer 5G services for for enterprise clients.
Anyway, the biggest question is when will the 5G services will actually be made available at the consumer end in India? There is already significant consumer interest in adopting 5G, and according to a study by telecom equipment company Ericsson, 40 million smartphone users could take up 5G in its first year of availability in India. Additionally, 21% of smartphone users indicated that they already have a 5G-ready device.
It is said that after the end of the auction today, allocation of spectrum to the telecom operators will happen before August 15, and initial 5G services in the country will start by September-October.
It is expected that the Mid and High band spectrum will be utilised by telecom service providers to rollout 5G technology-based services capable of providing speed and capacities which are claimed to be 10 times higher than what is possible through the current 4G services.
Networks on the 5G spectrum will help support Web 3.0. Fast and reliable Internet will be the backbone of future products and services—the Internet of Things, blockchains, and immersive experiences such as the metaverse—on the new web. Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had earlier said said 5G deployment will commence in 20-25 cities and towns by the year-end. But a few cities are expected to get high-speed 5G telecom services by September itself.
5G can revolutionise business
5G will provide higher speed, lower latency and greater capacity than 4G LTE networks. It is one of the fastest, most robust technologies the world has ever seen. 5G means quicker downloads, much lower lag and a significant impact on how we live, work and play. The upcoming 5G services have the potential to create new age businesses, generate additional revenue for enterprises and provide employment, too.
The first 5G call on a trial network using a fully indigenously-developed telecom equipment was recently made at IIT Madras. The symbolic demo call was on end-to-end 5G network that has been designed and developed in the country.
The DoT has also revealed that the 5G services will be made available in 13 Indian cities in the beginning. It will then be rolled out in remaining cities. The cities that could be getting 5G services in 2022 include the top four metropolitan locations of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. In addition, the country’s software capital Bangalore and upcoming tech city Hyderabad are also on the list. The others include Jamnagar, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Pune, Chandigarh and Gurugram. Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Jio had set up 5G trials sites in all these thirteen cities.