Spectrum for 5G Trials Allocated to the Telcos
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has finally allocated the spectrum to the telcos for conducting 5G trials. The telecom department has approved spectrum in the coveted 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz, and the premium 26 GHz band (mmWave).
All Indian operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea (Vi), and Reliance Jio, can now go ahead with their chosen partners and start with the trials using the spectrum offered by the government.
The DoT’s Wireless Planning & Coordination (WPC) wing has allocated 10, 800, and 100 units of the 700 MHz, 26 GHz, and 3.5 GHz spectrum to the telcos for the 5G trials. One of the biggest positives from this announcement is the inclusion of spectrum in the mmWave band (26 GHz) for 5G in India.
All operators have been asking the DoT to update the National Frequency Allocation Policy (NFAP) for quite some time. The telcos wanted the department to include the mmWave bands to ensure the affordable rollout of 5G.
Since the government has provided them with the mmWave bands for the trials, it is highly likely that DoT will also include the premium airwaves in the updated NFAP policy. Looking at the timeline of the trials, commercial 5G rollout in India might not happen until early 2022.
This is because the telcos will at least take 6 months to conduct trials in different parts of the country. Then, they will have to wait for the DoT to come up with the dates for the 5G spectrum auctions.
Even after all that, PAN-India rollout of 5G networks will take at least 3 years. Initially, it will be the metro cities that will get to experience the soft-launch of 5G networks. As expected, the Chinese vendors have been kept out of the trials by the government.
This seals the near-term future for the Chinese companies, including Huawei and ZTE, in India. Now, the only thing that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) needs to do is set the prices for the 5G spectrum. The auctions might also include the 600 MHz band, which has not been auctioned before.
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