5G networks are what everyone is waiting for in India. Some of the other prominent countries including the US and the UK already have commercial 5G networks. But India is currently in the testing phase of the next-generation network and is looking to develop relevant use cases. 5G in India is still quite far away because of three things - a) delayed 5G spectrum auctions, b) ongoing testing, and c) it naturally takes time to upgrade networks once the testing is done.
So when will India really see the power of 5G?
5G in India, Launch Date and What You Should Know
5G networks will need different bands of spectrum than what 4G operates in. The telcos will look to stock all the sub-GHz, mid, and mmWave bands. Firstly, there is a big threat of the 5G spectrum auctions being delayed because the Indian Navy that has 100 MHz of airwaves in the 3.3 GHz - 3.4 GHz band isn’t ready to vacate it for 5G.
If the auctions are delayed, it means a prolonged period for 5G networks to roll out. Then, there is the issue of spectrum pricing. The telcos want the government to reduce the price of spectrum in the sub-GHz band (700 MHz) to ensure that the network rollout is feasible.
Everything considered from the delays in the 5G spectrum auctions, testing, and more, it is very unlikely that Indian telcos will be able to launch 5G networks in the first quarter of CY22. The operators can do a soft launch of 5G in metro cities leveraging the 4G core but that would just ruin the experience for 4G users because of limited network capacity.
Looking at the conditions now, it feels like India will at best see a live commercial 5G network in the second quarter of CY22 or after that.