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India may add more frequency bands for 5G auction

India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) may add more 5G spectrum bands to the planned auction later this year, according to media reports.

This follows telcos' demands for more 5G spectrum to help them bring down the cost of network rollout.

The government plans to reveal the revised National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) in April, and is reportedly likely to include spectrum in sub-GHz, 1-6 GHz, and mmWave bands (above 6GHz). The midband spectrum 3.3-3.6GHz is already scheduled to be auctioned.

Fresh blooms: India's operators had called for more spectrum to help them bring down the cost of network rollout.  (Source: Unsplash)
Fresh blooms: India's operators had called for more spectrum to help them bring down the cost of network rollout.
(Source: Unsplash)

The NFAP will form the basis for the Telecom Regulatory Authority's consultation on the pricing of all available spectrum. The NFAP will also reveal which spectrum bands are available for service providers, defense, satellite operators, aviation and railways.

Ride the wave

The mmWave spectrum plays a key role in enabling high-speed and ultra-low-latency requirements of several 5G applications.

"India will benefit significantly from mmWave-enabled 5G. Over the period 2025-2040, we estimate that mmWave-enabled 5G will deliver $150 billion in additional GDP for India. The manufacturing sector will see the greatest impact, account for about a fifth. The healthcare sector will also benefit greatly from mmWave-enabled 5G, with an impact of approximately $4 billion," says a GSMA report.

The spectrum is currently with the Department of Space, which has in the past objected to third-party use on the grounds that it can cause interference between satellites and 5G networks.

Breaking up the band

It is not clear if the auction will include the E band (71-76GHz) and V band (57-64GHz).

These spectrum bands are a friction point between service providers and ISPs. While the telcos want this spectrum to be available because it is crucial for 5G backhaul, technology firms and ISPs want it delicensed.


Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.


The DoT is yet to issue a timeline for the 5G spectrum auction.

The top two service providers, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, are in a race to be first to launch 5G services. All private telcos, including Vodafone Idea, have touted their network readiness to launch 5G services.

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Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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