Airtel, Jio and Vi Need the Govt to Side with Them to Make 5G Successful

The industry body representing the telcos cited global data and said that incremental revenues only come from 5G with the enterprise services. If the telcos see that their enterprise services won’t be required in India related to 5G, they might not go for a commercial rollout.

Highlights

  • Bharti Airtel and other telcos want the airwaves to be given through auctions only.
  • Telcos potentially threaten to not rollout 5G.
  • COAI says government must ensure that enterprises don’t get spectrum directly.

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Airtel Jio

Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea (Vi) are going to need the government at their side when the discussion of private 5G networks comes around. The telcos have demonstrated many use cases around 5G. But the common theme amongst most of these use-cases was that they were built for enterprises. The consumer-focused use cases were rare, and it makes sense because consumers just need to browse the internet, stream videos, play games, and do video calls – all of which can be done via a strong 4G network.

The telcos have been planning for the 5G spectrum auction and must already know the kind of airwaves they want for rolling out commercial 5G networks. But things might go a little bad for the telcos if the government doesn’t side with them.

There’s a big battle over private 5G going on between the telcos and the tech companies. The tech companies want the government to do administrative allocation of airwaves for private 5G networks. This, however, the telcos don’t like.

Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the representative body of the private telcos, wrote to Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister for Communication, saying that the government must go through the auction route for spectrum allocation, and it should be only provided to the licensed access service providers.

This will be to ensure that the telcos can see their revenues growing by setting up private 5G networks for the enterprises. COAI said that if the telcos are ignored, and the administrative allocation of airwaves happens, there would be no viable business case for rolling out 5G.

The industry body representing the telcos cited global data and said that incremental revenues only come from 5G with the enterprise services. If the telcos see that their enterprise services won’t be required in India related to 5G, they might not go for a commercial rollout.

Here, the Broadband Forum India (BIF), the body which represents tech companies such as Microsoft and more, said that what the telcos are saying is not correct. Rubbishing the claims made by COAI, BIF suggested that there’s an untapped channel of revenues that the telcos will get when the enterprises are allocated spectrum in an administrative manner.

BIF claimed that there are no security concerns with allowing enterprises to set up their own networks using spectrum reserved for them. Further, as per BIF, the Indian telcos would gear their 5G networks for the masses, and thus it won’t benefit the enterprise to take services from them.

Which Side Will the Government Lean?

Well, it is hard to say right now, but the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) doesn’t want the airwaves to be directly allocated to the enterprises. However, the final call doesn’t rest with the DoT but instead with the Cabinet, which is yet to give its decision on the matter.

The telcos have said that they can offer the desired services to the enterprises, but according to BIF, the tech companies are the best qualified for setting up their own private networks. Things will only clear up once the Cabinet comes out with its final decisions.

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Tanay is someone with whom you can chill and talk about technology and life. A fitness enthusiast and cricketer, he loves to read and write.

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