Spectrum auction for 5G likely in later half of 2019

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan on Sunday sa­id auction of spectrum for 5G services is likely to happ­en in the later half of 2019. The 5G services would offer telecom companies better visibility into market dynamics and potential revenue streams of the next-generation mobile services, Sundararajan said.

As long as monetisation avenues and opportunities are properly identified, rollout would not take long because there is no requirement for replacing hardware as it was done to upgrade from 3G to 4G services, she noted. “5G services are all software driven. They don’t have to go and replace the hardware. So, it can happen much faster,” she said.

However, before the auction, the department of telecommunications wants to provide a one-year timeframe for trials to happen with experimental spectrum, the secretary said.

Hence, the government intends to give experimental licences for telcos to develop test beds to evolve a full-fle­dged eco-system, she added.

On the trial test bed funded by the government, Sundararajan said it was coming up at IIT Madras along with other IITs. Ericsson’s test bed is already functional, she noted.

To a query, Sundararajan said the government is expected to decide on spectrum allocation for 4G services to public sector firms BSNL and MTNL within the next couple of months.

“The proposals for cabinet approval are under process. It won’t take time. We will have our cabinet note ready at the earliest. So within the next couple of months we expect a decision by the government,” she said. It is very important to allocate 4G spectrums for BSNL and MTNL to survive, she added.

In March, the standing committee of information technology had asked the Centre to allocate 4G spectrum to BSNL and MTNL at the earliest to help them compete and survive in the market. BSNL and MTNL operate in 20 and 2 telecom circles, respectively.

Both had requested for 5 Mhz block of radio waves in 2100 Mhz band in the service area where they operate.