DoT plans to auction 5G spectrum in millimeter wave band for Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) plans to auction 5,500 MHz of 5G spectrum in the millimeter wave (37.0–42.5 GHz) band, valued at over Rs 35,000 crore. The spectrum can potentially be used for private networks in addition to mobile and satellite services.
DoT plans to auction 5G spectrum in millimeter wave band for Fixed Wireless Access

Millimeter Wave band auction for Fixed Wireless Access

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) plans to auction 5,500 MHz of 5G spectrum in the millimeter wave band, valued at over Rs 35,000 crore. DoT has established an internal group to develop a plan for including 37.0-42.5 GHz as international mobile telecommunications (IMT) bands, allowing telecom businesses to utilize the spectrum for providing 5G fixed wireless access services. After the DoT submits its proposal for the 37.0–42.5 GHz band to a committee of secretaries, the band will be formally announced as IMT, and will then be available for auction.

India’s biggest ever auction for 5G concluded on August 2 after seven days and 38 rounds, with spectrum worth Rs 1,50,173 crore being sold. The Centre had put 72,098 MHz spectrum to auction, of which 51,236 MHz (71 percent of the total) has been sold. Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Gautam Adani’s Adani Data Networks were among the bidders for 5G airwaves with Jio emerging as the largest acquirer of 5G spectrum. The total bid amount of Rs 1,50,173 crore comprises the bids of Rs 88,078 crore by Reliance Jio Infocomm, Rs 43,048 crore Bharti Airtel Ltd, Rs 18,799 crore by Vodafone idea Ltd and Rs 212 Cr by Adani Data Networks. 

Millimeter Spectrum Base Rate May Exceed Rs 7 Crore/MHz

Bharti-Airtel, Jio, Vodafone Idea, Adani Group, Bharti-Airtel backed OneWeb (to be acquired by Eutelsat) and Reliance Jio’s join venture with SES can purchase the millimeter wave spectrum. According to a DoT, satellite players and telecom carriers should coexist in this band because the spectrum has number of applicability.

The DoT would approach the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to propose the base price for the airwaves as well as other sale-related parameters after the committee of secretaries grants its approval. Experts predicted that the base cost for the 37.0-42.5 GHz bands might be in a similar ballpark, given that the sectoral regulator had suggested pan-India pricing of Rs 6.99 crore per MHz for the 24.5-28.5 GHz band for the 2022 auction. Given that DoT wants to make this band available to both satcom and telecom players, it might even be a little higher.

The spectrum in these bands is currently being used by various satellite players for their earth stations. DoT believes that since just a small portion of the band is required for earth stations, satellite and telecom providers can coexist there. In fact, a DoT official claimed that despite the fact that numerous nations, including the US, had already auctioned off these bands for 5G, India had been slow to announce them as IMT.

The 37.0-43.5 GHz range was approved as an extra band for IMT services during the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference of the International Telecommunication Union. According to experts, this spectrum can potentially be used for private networks in addition to mobile and satellite services.

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