India to proceed with 4G spectrum sale later this year but will delay 5G auction until at least 2021

Published: 18 May 2020 - 9:28 a.m.

India’s Department of Telecoms will hold a spectrum auction before October to provide operators with much needed 4G spectrum to add capacity to their networks, according to reports in the press.

The auction will make over 8,000 MHz of spectrum available to operators as they look to ramp up capacity and expand the reach of their existing networks. The Department of Telecoms will make spectrum available in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz bands. It expects to raise around $3.9 billion (3 lakh crore rupees) from the auction.

However, the auction will not include 5G airwaves, with the Department of Telecoms failing to secure interest from the country’s major telcos at the proposed asking price.

A report in The Economic Times of India claims that the government will go ahead with the auction of additional 4G spectrum as planned, later this year but will defer the 5G spectrum sale until 2021.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, who were both hit with multi-billion dollar AGR dues by the country’s Supreme Court last October, have both called for the auction to be delayed, as they battle to rein in expenses.

Sources familiar with the matter told journalists at The Economic Times of India that the country’s Digital Communications Commission had met on Monday to discuss postponing the 5G auction.

“Discussions are on to hold the 5G auctions later as some of the telcos need to buy spectrum but 5G may not be the priority now,” a source told the ET.

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