In a pre-service rollout exercise for telcos, spectrum allocation for 5G trial and subsequent field experiments can take place June onwards, official sources said on Wednesday. The panel constituted for such an exercise would soon begin deliberations on the quantum of spectrum, the time period and venue to hold the 5G trial, live demonstrations on speed and latency of 5G among others, sources added. By the time the telcos start the trial, it may be July-August, they said. If this is the tentative timeline of the 5G trial, then spectrum auction may take place September onwards.
The DoT is currently in the process of appointing an online auctioneer and drafting the Notice Inviting Application or bid documents for the auction. There is also a committee looking into the pricing suggested by the regulator Trai which the industry finds on the higher side.
The government and the sector are speeding the rollout of 5G auctions this year so that it keeps pace with the global rollouts. The three-player Indian telecom sector has a debt of nearly Rs 8 lakh crore and telcos fear they will not be able to afford the recommended prices.
5G is seen as a B2B service, where latency will become important as it will facilitate work in less than milliseconds, allow machine-to-machine communication and fixed wireless access.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have submitted a joint proposal with vendors like Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia to conduct 5G field trials in India. Before the trials, the government also has to take a call on whether or not it will allow Chinese vendors such as Huawei in the Department of Telecom (DoT) sponsored trials as the company faces security breach allegations, and even a ban, in some countries.
The DoT is still watching what other nations are doing in the matter. Gear vendors and telecom operators wanted 5G field trials spectrum for a year and the DoT earlier said that testing radio waves could only be given for 5G trials for 90 days as per network trial rules.