5G launch to be delayed? Airtel, Jio, Vi ask DoT for 1-year extension of 5G trials in India

A delay in the 5G spectrum auction would basically mean a delay in the official 5G launch in India.

  • Telecom operators have been conducting 5G trials in India since May.
  • 5G trial permit will end on November 26th.
  • Telcos have asked DoT for a 1-year extension for 5G trials.

Telecom operators, including AirtelReliance Jio and Vodafone India, have been conducting 5G trials in India for quite a while now. These trials were supposed to end later this year followed by an official 5G launch. However, telecom operators have reportedly requested the Department of Telecom (DoT) to provide an extension of 1 year for carrying out 5G trials in the country. Currently, the permit to conduct 5G trials in India ends on November 26th. If the DoT accepts the request, the permit would be extended till November 26th, 2022, pushing 5G spectrum auctions to the second half of 2022.

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“All three telcos want to extend their trials by another year,” an industry insider told Economic Times. To note, Vodafone Idea began 5G trials a month ago; meanwhile, Jio and Airtel started 5G trials back in June this year. This year, the Department of Telecom allocated 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands to telecom operators for 5G trials. As per ET’s report, Telecom operators cite a lack of readiness of the 5G ecosystem partners as one reason for extending the permit.

As of now, the Government of India plans to hold 5G spectrum auctions in the first quarter of 2022, but the extension would delay auctions, pushing it to the latter half of 2022. A delay in the 5G spectrum auction would basically mean a delay in the official 5G launch in India.

“Ecosystem partners are essential to the true success of trials. And telcos are facing various challenges with regard to readiness of various ecosystem part,” said another industry insider to ET.

Furthermore, DoT has asked for base price recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for 700MHz, 3.3-36GHz, and mmWave 5G bands. As far as the base price is expected, the 100MHz spectrum in the 3.3-3.6GHz band would be priced at Rs 50,000 crore during the auction. However, telcos feel that the price is too high and requested authorities to reduce the pricing.