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Airtel rolls out 5G on 26 GHz spectrum across 22 telecom circles

Bharti Airtel on Wednesday said the company has rolled out 5G services on 26 GHz spectrum across 22 telecom circles in the country.

This was in accordance with the norms set by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for complying to the minimum roll-out obligation criteria.

The government is not keen on extending the existing minimum rollout obligations, which mandate telcos who bought airwaves in the 26 GHz and 3300 MHz bands to begin 5G services by August 16.

Hinting at Vodafone Idea and Adani Data Networks, had told Business Standard last week that other telcos should follow suit. Both purchased 5G airwaves in the band at the last spectrum auction in 2022, but are yet to begin 5G services.

The government’s minimum rollout obligations stipulate that by the end of the first year after auctions, a company has to commercially launch services anywhere in each of the three metros of Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

They have to launch these services in at least one city in each of the 22 telecom circles in the country.

On Wednesday, Airtel said it has fulfilled the application criteria & requisition for complying to minimum rollout obligation norms following which the DoT has carried out testing in Mumbai LSA.

With broader 5G opportunities enabled by 26 GHz, the company is poised to continuously drive innovation to create ultimate Airtel 5G Plus experiences for its customers, the company said.

Last week, Airtel and Reliance Jio had tested 5G services in the 26 GHz and 3300 MHz bands.

The 26GHz band has seen interest from all telcos at the last spectrum auction, given its utility for captive networks and the scrapping of spectrum usage charge from the current auctions. As much as 72 percent of the spectrum on offer in this band received bids.

Earlier this year, telcos complained about the lack of a device ecosystem, which supports the 26 GHz band.

Industry sources said telcos also approached DoT to relax the mandatory rollout rules. Business Standard

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