Telecom networks like Airtel, Jio and Vodafone Idea have already started conducting 5G trials for India. The trials started a while ago now somewhere around May of this year. However, these trials were supposed to end later this year followed by an official 5G launch. But it looks this will not be happening anytime soon. The telecom operators have reportedly requested the Department of Telecom (DoT) to provide an extension.
They are asking Department of Telecom (DoT) to provide a one-year extension for 5G trials. The request came in after the permit given to the telecom companies will end on November 26, 2021. Now, if the DoT accepts the request the permit will extend till November 26th, 2022. Thus, pushing 5G spectrum auctions to the second half of 2022.
“All three telcos want to extend their trials by another year,” an industry insider told Economic Times. Out of three telcos, Reliance Jio and Airtel started their trials back in June 2021. Whereas, late to the party, Vodafone Idea started their 5G trials only a month back.
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5G Trials: Here Are All The Details
To recall, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) allotted 5G trial spectrum for six months in the 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz band. This enabled all three telcos to partner up and develop India-relevant use cases on the next-gen fast wireless broadband technology. However, requesting for extension, all of them have cited lack of readiness of the 5G ecosystem partners as one of the reasons for seeking extension of the trial time period. They have done so in separate letters to DoT.
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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 partners,” a second industry executive said.
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Meanwhile, the minimum price set for the 5G spectrum in the 3.3-3.6 GHz band set up by DoT is Rs. 50,000 crores. This is too high to buy as per telco companies, and they hope the government reduces the price in its new recommendations.