Bharti Airtel is the only telecom operator in India which has taken the E-band spectrum from the government for backhaul services related to 5G. Telcos had said that the E-band spectrum is going to be very important for them once they start rolling out 5G. A large capacity backhaul is necessary to facilitate Indian consumers with a good 5G experience. But for that, the fiberisation of towers is necessary. Since fiberisation isn't possible for every tower right away, the telcos can utilise the E-band spectrum (71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz) for backhaul because it is also very much capable of handling large capacity of data.
The Indian government had decided that it would give the telcos E-band spectrum for backhaul services. But right now, the E-band airwaves will be provided to the operators on an administrative basis (not an auction process), and the price for the airwaves would be decided later on. This means any operator taking the E-band airwaves right now doesn't know how much it's going to cost.
Airtel the Only One to Get E-Band Spectrum
According to an ET Telecom report, only Bharti Airtel is the operator which has taken the E-band airwaves from the government. Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, and Adani Data Networks have avoided the E-band despite its importance.
Aside from Airtel, the other players might be wondering whether it would be better to wait until the cost of using E-band airwaves is clear. The telcos might just end up using fiber as the last resort for backhaul services if the E-band proves to be costly. However, Bharti Airtel would have to pay for the band regardless of whether it is expensive or affordable.
The telcos could also use both E-band and fiber for backhaul. E-band airwaves would be useful in areas where the fibre is very difficult to deploy. The price of the E-band spectrum will be announced by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) after proper research.