NEW DELHI: The government is set to go for 5G spectrum auction this year — making an early move to initiate rollout of latest communications technologies. The government will also go for a fresh auction in 700 MHz band, which drew a blank last year as companies complained of high reserve price.
The 5G auction will be conducted by selling spectrum in bands over 3,000 MHz, and sale will be conducted here for the first time, top sources told TOI. Also on sale will be any remaining spectrum in bands such as 800 MHz, 900, 1,800, 2,100, 2,300 and 2,500 MHz. “The file has been moved within the telecom ministry, and we will make a reference to Trai on the issue very soon,” one source said.
5G spectrum will be sold in bands such as 3,300 MHz and 3,400 MHz and the government expects that these will be put up for use of a host of new-age initiatives and services, including internet of things (IoT), machine-to-machine communications, instant high-definition video transfer and downloads, and connected smart cities.
“These bands have potential when considered from the point of view of where we are headed for, in terms of technological progress. We intend to move in early in adoption of new technologies and also get a response from the industry on the matter,” another source said.
According to the latest global mobility report by Ericsson, 5G networks are expected to be commercially available in 2020. By 2022, Ericsson forecasts 55 crore 5G subscriptions and coverage of 10% of global population for the technology. The government had dropped hints about making spectrum auctions an annual affair and officials said this was being done to “end complaints about spectrum scarcity, once and for all”.
Last time, the 700 MHz band got no response due to a pan-India reserve price of Rs 55,000 crore per block of 5MHz. Sources said this would be “re-calibrated” this time around. “We have noted the industry feedback, that prices were ‘way too high’ in the last round. These views will be conveyed to Trai so that they can factor this, while recommending reserve prices for next sale,” the source said.
While the government appears bullish over auctions, the industry is complaining about being financially weak after the entry of Reliance Jio, which created steep competition and hit financials of existing telcos.