The millimetre wavelength (mmWave) spectrum will help the telecom operators in saving thousands of crores worth of payments in Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC). The mmWave spectrum will be included in the spectrum auction for the first time to help with the 5G rollout in India. Airways in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz band has been recommended to be put in the auction for bidding. These new frequency bands won’t attract SUC, and they will also be available in a huge quantum for the telcos to acquire.
According to an ET Telecom report, IIFL Securities said that the three private telecom operators in India, including Reliance Jio, Bharti Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea (Vi), will potentially save between Rs 4200 – Rs 4500 crore on SUC if they bid strongly for the mmWave frequencies in the upcoming auction.
As per the analyst, Jio and Airtel both can ensure that they are saving Rs 3,000 – Rs 3,300 crore in SUC, while Vi can save around Rs 1,200 crore annually for the same as the latter is expected to acquire smaller chunks of the premium airwaves.
Very Few Smartphones Support mmWave Bands
IIFL Securities said that Jio, Airtel, and Vi are estimated to purchase 1000 MHz, 1000 MHz, and 500 MHz of airwaves in the 28 GHz band. But it is worth noting that there aren’t many smartphones that can support mmWave frequency bands connectivity. Especially for the Indian market, the n78 band (3.5 GHz) is mostly supported by all smartphones.
The use cases of the mmWave spectrum currently limit them to enterprises only. Normal consumers won’t have much demand for it. On the consumer side, it is the 3.5 GHz band that will make the most difference initially with the 5G rollout.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended a base rate of a modest 70 million per MHz for all the mmWave bands. It will be interesting to see how much the telcos will actually bid for these premium airwaves.