Next 5G Auction in India Could Bring Airwaves in 37 GHz: Report

In the last auction, which concluded on August 1, 2022, the government earned a record Rs 1,50,173 crore, with bids for 71% of the 72.098 GHz of airwaves put on the block. The mid-band (3300 MHz) and mmWave band (26 GHz) airwaves were sold at the base prices of Rs 317 crore per MHz and Rs 6.99 crore per MHz, respectively.

Highlights

  • DoT is reportedly planning to hold another auction for the 5G spectrum in January or February next year, with a base price of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
  • Officials suggest that airwaves in 11 different bands could be offered for sale, ranging from 600 MHz up to over 37 GHz.
  • There may not be much competition during the auction, as only two buyers, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, are expected to be involved.

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The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is reportedly planning to hold another auction for the 5G spectrum in January or February next year, with a base price of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore. According to an ET report, officials suggest that airwaves in 11 different bands could be offered for sale, ranging from 600 MHz up to over 37 GHz, which could mark the debut of airwaves above 37 GHz. However, there may not be much competition during the auction, as only two buyers, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, are expected to be involved. The third private player, Vodafone Idea (Vi), is struggling and may not have the resources to bid.




Permits for Bharti Airtel and Vi are due to expire in 2024 in certain circles, such as West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, and Odisha, which could see some competition. In the previous auction, the winning price of UP (East) increased by almost 80% over its base price as Bharti Airtel fought with Jio to protect its business. "We are currently finalising the spectrum availability and will soon send the reference to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), seeking recommendations for pricing and other modalities," an official told ET on condition of anonymity.

Read More - 5G Spectrum Auctions of 2023 Could Include New Range of Frequencies

The above 37 GHz bands, which are known as millimetre wave (mmWave) bands, could be offered for sale for the first time in this auction. "Around 88,000 MHz spectrum is available in above 37 GHz bands. Apart from this, all the unsold spectrum in the last auction will be again put up for sale," said another official. Although the preferred band for 5G rollout remains the mid-band spectrum of 3300 MHz, the mmWave band is also deemed effective for 5G, particularly for enterprise use cases, according to experts.

In the last auction, which concluded on August 1, 2022, the government earned a record Rs 1,50,173 crore, with bids for 71% of the 72.098 GHz of airwaves put on the block. The mid-band (3300 MHz) and mmWave band (26 GHz) airwaves were sold at the base prices of Rs 317 crore per MHz and Rs 6.99 crore per MHz, respectively. DoT officials will need to contact Trai for the pricing of the above-37 GHz spectrum because these airwaves will be up for sale for the first time. However, given that it is mmWave spectrum, the pricing could be similar to that of the 26 GHz band, according to experts.

Reported By

Tanuja is a passionate technology and telecom buff who has been following the telecom industry for several years now.

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