The government is hopeful that the 5G rollout for consumers in India will start as early as October, IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said last week. He said that once the spectrum auction ends, the government will be able to “allocate the spectrum within a few days itself.” The auction will enter the seventh day later today, but it is likely on its last legs as most airwaves have already found their bidders. Also Read - Are Indians ready to upgrade to 5G? New survey says very much
“We believe that we will probably buck the trend of having a much faster rollout of 5G compared to many other geographies since our other costs are significantly under control,” Vaishnaw said. Countries such as the US, the UK, China, South Korea, Canada, Spain, Germany, and Saudi Arabia already have 5G services in many of their respective cities. On the other hand, India will initially roll out 5G to likely 11 cities initially. Also Read - Airtel to launch 5G services in India this month, signs agreements with Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung: Details here
5G spectrum auction
Starting with a bang, the auction of the 5G spectrum in India has fetched bids worth Rs 1,49,966 crore in the first five days. The top bidders, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have likely bought the maximum number of airwaves, followed by Vodafone Idea. The fourth bidder and the newcomer Adani Data Networks restricted its bidding to only the high-speed 26GHz, also called the millimetre wave. Also Read - 5G Spectrum Auction Day 2 ends with intense fight between Jio, Airtel
The auction saw Jio and Airtel engage in a bidding war over the Uttar Pradesh East circle for the maximum airwaves. This circle includes cities such as Lucknow, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, and Gorakhpur. Because of the dense population, telecom companies are bidding for the mid-band spectrum for this circle as it offers long-distance coverage with reasonably good data speeds.
Since Jio and Airtel have been the most aggressive bidders by far, meaning they would have a significant presence in India’s 5G market, the minister addressed the concerns of a duopoly. “Duopoly will not happen, the September reforms have resulted in good stability in the industry, we are looking at new players to enter the segment, and there is going to be good healthy competition in the sector. BSNL will emerge as a good market balancer,” he told the media.