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India commences groundwork for 5G spectrum auction

India has begun laying the groundwork for 5G spectrum auctions scheduled for 2022., as announced earlier by K Rajaraman lat – the Secretary of the Telecommunications Department and Chairman of the Digital Communications Commission. India is the world’s second-largest telecoms market, with telecom operators intending to put out 5G mobile services by 2022-23. It is expected that 5G will add $450 billion to the Indian economy, boosting the speed of development and creating jobs. It will aid in the digitisation of the economy, the growth of the startup environment, better governance, and the ease of doing business in the country.

During her budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that 5G mobile services would be available by 2022-23, indicating that India is eager to implement the technology.

“All leading telecom companies, including Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vi are testing their 5G networks under different trials. The government is also discussing with telcos and other stakeholders on the 5G spectrum auctions that will be undertaken this year,” she said.

5G is also expected to open up opportunities for collaboration with like-minded partners such as Australia and Japan, which appears to be a little optimistic after NEC Corporation Chairman Nobuhiro Endo said on Monday, following a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Tokyo, that Japan will contribute to India’s smart city and 5G projects.

In 5G-centric technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, and cloud computing, India will require 22 million qualified professionals by 2025. With an ever-growing subscriber base, the sector has seen a lot of investment and development. According to data supplied by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), FDI inflow into the telecom sector totaled $37.97 billion from April 2000 to March 2021.

Given that telecom providers have previously stated that they will need six months to build out their 5G services after the 5G spectrum auction, Union Minister Vaishnaw believes the 5G service rollout will take place around August or September.

That being said, the telecom companies have been given extended time upto May 2022 to test their 5G networks, it could be possible for them to fast-track the commercial rollout of 5G. Or, like Jio has done in the past with beta testing its 4G-only network, telcos could roll out 5G services in a limited manner before a wider commercial rollout.

Gujarat Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan said in the Rajya Sabha that the 5G spectrum auctions will be conducted very soon, and the next-generation 5G services are expected to commence before the end of the year.

Replying to a supplementary question during Question Hour, Chauhan also said that the four companies have been allotted spectrum for conducting trials and added that the trials are expected to be completed soon.

In recent communications, telecom sector watchdog TRAI detailed its plan to put on auction around ₹7.5 lakh crore worth of airwaves across multiple bands.

The TRAI, in this mega 5G spectrum auctions, has planned to put on an auction spectrum band. All available spectrum in existing bands viz. 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz and new spectrum bands viz. 600 MHz, 3300-3670 MHz and 24.25-28.5 GHz be put to auction, Saudi Gazette reported.

As part of the roll-out, India is aiming to increase its fibre backbone to 2.5 million kilometres (1.6 million miles) by 2022 from 1.5 million kilometres right now.

In 2021, the global services market for 5G technology was estimated to be $83.24 billion. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 23 per cent to reach $188 billion by the year 2025.

To provide flexibility to the telecom service providers (TSPs), a block size of 10 MHz for the 3300- 3670 MHz band and 50 MHz for the 24.25-28.5 GHz band is recommended. Spectrum to be assigned in a contiguous manner, the watchdog stated.

It said the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) should carry out harmonisation exercises in 800 MHz, 900 MH and 1800 MHz bands immediately after conducting the 5G spectrum auctions so that frequencies assigned to the TSPs are in a contiguous manner.

The reserve price of spectrum allocation in the case of 30 years should be equal to 1.5 times the reserve price of spectrum allocation for 20 years for the respective band.

According to India Brand Equity Foundation, India’s 5G subscriptions to have 350 million by 2026. accounting for 27 per cent of all mobile subscriptions.

“For the long-term growth and sustainability of the telecom sector, infusing liquidity and encouraging investment, the Telecom Service Providers should be allowed easy payment options including part payment with the flexibility of moratorium,” the TRAI stated.

Unlike existing coverage-based rollout obligations, considering deployment of 5G network in 3300-3670 MHz and 24.25-28.5 GHz bands, easy network deployment-based roll-out conditions have been recommended for these bands, Saudi Gazette reported.

According to India Brand Equity Foundation, over the next five years, a rise in mobile-phone penetration and a decline in data costs will add 500 million new Internet users in India, creating opportunities for new businesses.

For domestic consumption and export, Ericsson will start manufacturing 5G radio products in India. By 2025, India will need 22 million skilled workers in 5G-centric technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and cloud computing. Livemint

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