Press "Enter" to skip to content

DoT initiates process to auction more 5G spectrum – Economic Times

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has commenced an exercise to unlock and sell an additional 5,500 MHz of 5G spectrum , worth over ₹35,000 crore. This comes close on the heels of the government netting a record ₹1.5 lakh crore from the recently concluded auctions.

According to officials, DoT has formed an internal committee to chalk out a strategy to incorporate 37.0-42.5 GHz as international mobile telecommunications (IMT) bands, which will allow telecom companies to use the spectrum. This band, also known as the millimetre wave band, can be useful in offering 5G fixed wireless access services.

After DoT gives its proposal on the 37.0-42.5 GHz band, the matter will be taken to a committee of secretaries, which will officially notify the band as IMT. Once that happens, the spectrum can be put on sale.

The DoT is likely to propose a mixed use for spectrum in the band,the officials said.

This means satellite players like Bharti Group-backed OneWeb and Reliance Jio’s JV with SES as well as telecom operators will be able to buy airwaves. “Spectrum has multiple usage, so satellite players and telecom operators should co-exist in the band,” said a DoT official.

Once the committee of secretaries gives its approval, DoT will approach the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to propose the base price for the airwaves as well as other modalities related to the sale. Given the fact that the sectoral regulator had recommended a pan-India price of Rs 6.99 crore per MHz for the 24.5-28.5 GHz band for the 2022 auction, it could be expected that the base rate for the 37.0-42.5 GHz bands could be around the same range, experts said. In fact, it could be a bit higher as DoT proposes to offer this band to both satcom and telecom players. Currently, some satellite players are using the spectrum in these bands for their earth stations. However, DoT feels that both satellite and telecom operators can co-exist in the band as the requirement for earth stations is limited to a particular area.

In fact, a DoT official said India has been lagging in notifying these bands as IMT even as several countries, including the US, has already auctioned it for 5G.

The International Telecommunication Union’s World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019 had adopted the 37.0-43.5 GHz as additional band for IMT services. Experts say besides mobile and satellite services, this spectrum can also be utilised for private networks.