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When is the 5G auction? All that you should know

Written by - Marisha Bhatt

July 27, 2022 6 minutes

The world is abuzz with the news of the ongoing war and other world issues like rising food and fuel prices, worsening climate conditions, etc., and the joint measures taken by the world to tackle the same. While India is also facing similar, the current buzz in the country’s business community is around the 5G spectrum auction. India is set to see the introduction of the 5G spectrum across many cities and eventually pan India. The news around the 5G auction in the country has been awaited for a long time and the government has finally given a green signal for the same. 

Given below are the details of this 5G spectrum auction, its participants, and core details of the 5G network that is set to change the telecom space in the country for good. 

What is 5G technology and how is it better?

We have been hearing about the 4G and 5G networks but what does it really mean? To put it simply, the 5G network is the latest norm in internet speed, i.e., the fifth generation internet connectivity technology for broadband cellular networks. This network will be available in three bands namely, low-band (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), mid-band (3300 MHz), and high-band (26GHz) millimeter-wave.

This network will provide better connectivity at a higher speed and reduce latency, higher reliability, and a better quality of user experience. The latest network is proposed to provide speeds that are approximately 10 times the current maximum speeds available through the 4G technology. This will help in providing better solutions in areas like internet-connected vehicles, e-health facilities, richer metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming experiences. 

The current speed offered under the 4G network is up to 150mbps and this can go up to 10Gbps under 5G. The upload speed offered by 4G currently on the other hand is up to 50Mbps which is expected to go up to 1Gbps through 5G networks. Also, the 5G network is expected to be able to connect to multiple devices other than smartphones. 

Which companies are participating in the auction?

The announcement of the 5G auction was done after it was approved on June 15 by the Union Cabinet. This auction is to be started on July 26 from 10 am to 6 pm and will be carried over the next day if the demand for the spectrum and the bids persist.

 The auction is for 72 GHz of radiowaves worth Rs 4.3 lakh crore and the Department of Telecom expects to generate Rs. 70,000 crores to Rs.1,00,000 crores from the 5G auctions. The auction is being participated by 4 key players namely – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Adani Data.

These participants are required to make an EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) which provides an indication of the spectrum that they wish to bid for. The amount of EMD is translated into eligibility points that are used to target the desired quantum of airwaves in the selected spectrum bands. The EMD given by each participant is tabled below.

ParticipantEMD (in crores)Allowable purchase of spectrum (in crores) 
Reliance JioRs. 14,000Rs. 1,22,000 
Bharti AirtelRs. 5,500Rs. 48,125
Vodafone IdeaRs. 2,200Rs.19,250
Adani DataRs. 100Rs. 875

What are the possible spectrums that are being bid for?

Based on the EMD provided by the auction participants, the bands that may be bid by the participants are highlighted below.

  1. Reliance Jio

Reliance Jio is the highest bidder in this race and is expected to bid similar to Bharti Airtel or go all out on the 5G network connection across the country. The possible bids by this giant are,

  1. 100 MHz in the low band (3300 MHz-3600 MHz) and 500MHz in the high band of 26GHz in all circles (pan India) as well as 800 MHz and 1800MHz bands in a few selected circles across the country.
  2. Maximum allowed spectrum in low band (3300 – 3600MHz) and j=high band of 26GHz as well as the priciest 700MHz band.
  3. Bharti Airtel

Bharti Airtel is the second highest bidder in the 5G spectrum race and is expected to develop the network on a pan-India basis. They are expected to bid for 100 MHz in the low band (3300 MHz-3600 MHz) and 500MHz in the high band of 26GHz in all circles (pan India) as well as 900 MHz and 1800MHz bands in a few selected circles across the country. 

  1. Vodafone Idea

Vodafone Idea is expected to place bids for either of the two options,

  1. 50 MHz in the low band (3300 MHz-3600 MHz) and 400MHz in the high band of 26GHz in all circles (pan India)
  2. 60 MHz in the low band (3300 MHz-3600 MHz) and 500MHz in the high band of 26GHz in limited cities (17 key circles out of the 22 across the country) 
  3. Adani Data

Adani data is expected to buy the 5G spectrum for captive use and is believed to bid for 100MHz of 26GHz in all circles (pan India). 

When will the 5G network be rolled out in India and where? 

The 5G spectrum is expected to roll out in September or October after completion of the allocation process post the auction in August. The 5G services are then expected to be initially available in 13 cities across India. These cities include the metro cities Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Kolkata along with other cities like Gurugram, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Pune, Gandhinagar, Jamnagar, and Ahmedabad. This gradual rollout, which is eventually expected to reach the pan India base, is on account of the limited 5G enabled smartphones available in the country currently. 

Conclusion

5G is the future of the telecom industry and was long due in the Indian markets. The benefits of this spectrum are expected to be multifold and in various sectors across the country like health care, automobiles, entertainment, agriculture, education, manufacturing, etc. The bid for this spectrum is being watched through hawk’s eyes by all the key players as well as the business community in the country and the world at large. The allocation of the spectrum after the completion of the auction process will define the future of the telecom sector and determine its key players in the country.  

FAQs

1. Why will the 5G network be rolled out in phases?

The 5G spectrum will be rolled out in phases on account of the current limited availability of 5G compatible smartphones in the country (approximately 7%).

2. Who is expected to lead in the 5G network auction?

Reliance Jio is expected to lead in the auction for the 5G spectrum.

3. Which sectors are expected to benefit from the 5G network?

Sectors like health care, automobiles, entertainment, agriculture, education, manufacturing, etc. are expected to benefit from the 5G spectrum.

4. What is the Department of Telecom’s estimate from the 5G auction?

The Department of Telecom’s estimate is to generate Rs. 70,000 to Rs, 1,00,000 crores through this auction.

5. Is the 5G network going to be more expensive than the current 5G network?

The 5G spectrum services are expected to be slightly higher than the current 4G services. However, India as a nation is known to have the cheapest internet rates and that is not expected to change.

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