5G Launch in India is gearing up for a new round of debate as its auction date is getting closer according to the announcement of the Department of every country across the globe is ardently working towards launching 5G and services without any delay.
However, expectations are not always on par with reality.
The long-awaited rollout of next-generation 5G and its services in India is still in the doldrums as the 5G spectrum auction has again been pushed to a later date, according to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India).
With the latest row of 5G trials happening all over the country, the 5G Launch in India has now become one of the hottest topics of debate for many telecoms who are boasting to be ready to launch the next-generation services at any time now.
According to the recent statements of various telecom companies March was all about if auctions took place on time this year i.e., by the end of this May 2022, then they would be able to offer some services in a few selected cities by the end of this year with a full roll-out from 2023.
But the big question remains- Is 5G capable of turning the tables for these telcos financially?
And can all mobile consumers upgrade to 5G quickly and can pay more?
The answers to these questions lie in the upcoming 5G Spectrum auctions and the prices set by the TRAI.
But the scenario of the 5G Launch in India is now taking a new turn according to the latest announcements of the government.
Before explaining the ongoing issues of 5G as well as the question, Are Telecoms Ready for 5G Launch in India? with the delay of auctions, let us check out some of the recent developments of 5G trials and its readiness shown by multiple telecoms in the last few months.
5G Launch in India-Story So Far
Carrying heavy expectations of digital consumers of the country, the 5G Launch in India failed to happen in 2021 due to the unexpected delay of the 5G spectrum auctions postponement.
Though the reasons for delaying the auction were attributed to severe waves of Covid-19 happening everywhere in April and May of 2021, every telecom company had its own opinions on the spectrum distribution as the disagreement regarding spectrum allocation remains unresolved due to the inflexibility of TRAI and its pricing conditions.
If you want more details on the 5G spectrum auction in India, you can check out my previous article, “Auction of 5G Spectrum in India – All you Need to Know!”.
To seek 5G ecosystem development in India, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had awarded a part of the spectrum to telcos for six months to successfully conduct their independent 5G trials for India-specific use cases to speed up 5G Launch in India.
The date was later extended for another six months at the telcos’ request wherein major service providers like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea were able to conduct several 5G tests successfully.
This was followed by the government’s latest policy reforms that happened in September 2021 as many measures like a four-year moratorium for payment of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) and other dues, changing the definition of AGR, the introduction of 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), spectrum sharing and single-window clearance for Right of Way (RoW) were announced last year to boost the 5G Launch in India as soon as possible.
5G Spectrum Auctions Feud between TRAI and Telecoms
Despite all the latest reforms introduced by the government as well as successful 5G trials happening all over the country by various telecoms, the point of debate stalled further progression of the 5G Launch in India as both parties failed to resolve the pricing as well as spectrum allocation issues.
According to the DoT announcements, TRAI was expected to submit its report, “Recommendations on Auction of Spectrum in frequency bands identified for IMT/5G,” in February 2022, but only filed it in mid-April.
In its recent report, TRAI recommended the reserve price for all 5G spectrum be set at 70% of the valuation compared to the previous one.
The report recommended that the spectrum for 5G can be auctioned in the bands already used for mobile communications in India, and also for the new spectrum bands of 600 MHz, 3300-3670 MHz, and 24.25-28.5 GHz.
However, the latest set of opposition came from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) whose members include Airtel, Jio, and Idea as they were not satisfied with TRAI’s latest recommendation and said the spectrum pricing was still too high.
COAI had now presented arguments and concerns about the high reserve price as compared to global benchmarks and is recommending lower price rates to reduce by 90%.
This is where the point of the delay stemmed from that has pushed the date of the 5G Launch in India to a later date.
Despite the government’s latest reform changes and claims to upgrade the wireless technology in the country, unless TRAI and telecoms reaches a conclusion, India’s dream for a 5G Launch in India will remain struck.