The Indian government is likely going to conduct another spectrum auction in 2023 for 5G airwaves. While 4G airwaves would also be included, the major focus would be on 5G. The first 5G spectrum auctions concluded on August 2022. There were four companies that bid for the airwaves - Adani Data Networks, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea (Vi). Out of the three telecom operators, two have already started rolling out 5G commercially for consumers.
According to an ET report, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is working to free up more spectrum that can be auctioned in the upcoming financial year that starts from April 1, 2023. The report mentions that the telecom department could include frequencies in bands that have never been put on offer before. More precisely, the DoT could include more spectrum in the sub-6 GHz band and mmWave bands (millimetre wavelength) between 37 GHz and 42 GHz.
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The sub-6 GHz spectrum/C-band spectrum/mid-band spectrum is what the telcos would primarily rely on to offer 5G services to consumers at scale. This is because the C-band spectrum offers both range and speeds. With the mmWave band spectrum, the range is hardly there, but the speeds are way faster than what C-band can deliver. Thus, the mmWave bands are likely going to be reserved for enterprise services only.
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In India, the spectrum in 3.8 GHz is being used by satellite players and broadcasters. The report adds that the telecom department is looking to shift the satellite players and broadcasters to higher frequencies so that the 3.8 GHz spectrum can be used for 5G by the telcos. The telecom operators are already using spectrum in the 3.3 GHz - 3.67 GHz band for 5G. It would be an interesting thing to follow as the 3.8 GHz band is very close to the spectrum band that altimeters in aircraft use. Thus whether it is something that would even work in the first place is something that the government and the telcos would have to deliberate.