5G network rollout timeline heavily depends on the time that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will take for submitting the recommendations for upcoming spectrum auctions. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had already written to the regulator asking to expedite the process so that the 5G rollout can happen by August 15, 2022. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) wants India to have live commercial 5G networks by the Independence Day of 2022. Whether this will happen or not will depend on how fast TRAI is working.
TRAI Working on the Deadline Despite Limitations
According to a Financial Express report, TRAI is working on the deadline despite limitations being there. This will allow the government to go ahead with the spectrum auctions by May at the latest. If there’s any delay, the 5G spectrum auctions in India will get stretched to June or even July of this year.
DoT will consider the pricing and the other recommendations of TRAI for the spectrum bands that will be availed during the spectrum auctions. The telcos have requested the regulator and the DoT to slash the prices of spectrum by more than 90% to make the 5G rollout a feasible process in India. While that is unlikely to happen, a price cut is surely going to be there.
None of the telcos touched the 700 MHz band during the 4G spectrum auctions of 2021 due to its steep pricing.
DoT had also written to the TRAI explaining that there is an additional spectrum available for the auctions in certain bands, including 800 MHz, 900 MHz, and 1800 MHz.
But while the DoT can easily put the pressure of a timeline on TRAI, it is really important for the regulator to take its time so that a viable solution to all the recommendations provided by the industry and its stakeholders can be delivered. There are new elements such as satellite communications (satcom) involved in the upcoming auctions, which makes the job of TRAI even harder.