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Vi, Adani Data Networks unlikely to get 5G deadline extension

Vodafone Idea (Vi) and Adani Data Networks are facing the possibility of not receiving any extension or exemption for meeting the minimum rollout obligations related to 5G airwaves. The rollout obligations apply to the mid band (3300-3600 MHz) and 26 GHz bands. If they fail to meet these milestones, they may be subject to financial penalties for the circles where they fall short.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) believes that the conditions for rollout were clearly defined in the notice inviting application (NIA) and expects all companies to comply with them. Airwaves for 5G services were allotted to Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and an Adani Enterprises unit in August 2022. The first year of allotment serves as the deadline for meeting the rollout obligations.

The NIA states that the specified time period for network rollout is essential and must not be exceeded. No extensions will be granted for the prescribed due date. The DoT is currently reviewing whether any past precedents exist for granting such extensions or exemptions. However, industry executives point out that the DoT has never granted such extensions in the past. In fact, even Reliance Jio had to comply with obligations in 2015, well before the commercial launch of 4G services in 2016.

The situation becomes more challenging for Adani, which only holds 5G spectrum in the 26 GHz band, and Vodafone Idea, which holds spectrum across the mid band and 26 GHz bands. In contrast, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have not only met but exceeded the rollout conditions across all bands and circles.

The rollout obligations for both the 26 GHz band and the mid band (3300-3600 MHz) are similar in the initial year. This means that companies must commercially launch services in each of the three metros and at least one city in each of the 22 telecom circles in Indiathe end of the first year or phase 1. Opp.Today

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