India has been preparing for a long time to deploy the 5G wave in India. The BJP led government in the past stated that it wouldn’t miss out on the 5G bus like in case of 2G, 3G and 4G technologies which were deployed later in India. However, as reported by ET Telecom, India is set to miss the 5G bus. The primary reason behind this is the lack of preparedness, unavailability of sufficient spectrum and uncertainty around radio waves sale for the next generation of telecom services. As per an industry executive, DoT has to form a relevant study group and revise the NFAP 2018 to include more spectrum bands as a part of the 5G road map.
Government has already stated that the quantum of spectrum availability is uncertain. Earlier the defence ministry and department of space have demand premium spectrum for their work. In such a scenario, the quantum of 5G airwaves for telcos will be uncertain.
Also, the industry executive has marked that quantum of spectrum availability, especially in the 3300-3600 MHz also remains uncertain. As the entire telecom industry is facing massive financial distress, the government is planning to hold auctions for nearly seven bands which are approximately valued at Rs 3 lakh crore. It is expected that the move will facilitate the government’s Digital India Program.
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in a letter which dated May 12, 2020, have asked the department to start a process by creating a committee along with the industry representatives and review the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) 2018 for the commencement of new bands.
The entire telecom industry has been in need of newer bands to use it in the best way for 5G. However, if the decision regarding the new bands will be pushed to a future date, the rollout of 5G might take a hit. Since various other departments are already asking for premium spectrum, the delay in new bands will be beneficial for other sectors. It is also expected that the Department of Space (DoS) might take a claim on the premium spectrum for their use.