Auctioning 5G spectrum bands


  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister, gave its nod for the auction of spectrum that can be used to offer 5G services, at its meeting held on June 14.

About 5G spectrum bands

  • A total of 72,097.85 MHz (or 72 Ghz) of spectrum with a validity period of 20 years will be put on sale during the auction planned towards the end of July.

    Auctioning 5G spectrum bands
    Photo Credit: Wikipedia
  • The auction will be held for spectrum in various Low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), Mid (3300 MHz) and High (26 GHz) frequency bands.
  • It is expected that the Mid and High band spectrum will be utilised by telecom service providers (TSPs) to roll-out 5G services wherein speeds would be 10 times higher than what is possible through the current 4G services.

What are the key issues?

  • The two issues that the industry has highlighted with regards to the upcoming auctions are high reserve prices for the spectrum and direct allotment of spectrum to enterprises for setting up captive private networks.
  • The government has accepted the recommendations given by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on reserve prices for spectrum auctions.
  • While the TRAI had earlier recommended reducing prices of airwaves across various bands by 35-40% from its earlier proposed base price, the telecom operators had expressed disappointment given their demand for a 90% cut in the prices.
  • On allowing direct allocation of spectrum for captive non-public networks, the government has reasoned that the move will spur a new wave of innovations in Industry 4.0 applications such as machine to machine communications, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) across automotive, healthcare, agriculture, energy, and other sectors.
  • However, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which counts the three private telcos as its members, has said that the move severely degrades the business case of TSPs.

What benefits are likely to come with 5G?

  • 5G is the next generation cellular technology that will provide faster and more reliable communication with ultra low latency.
    • As per the set standards, with 5G, the peak network speeds are expected to be in the range of 2-20 Gbps as opposed to about 25 Mbps on current 4G networks.
    • In India, however, 4G speeds average at around 6-7 Mbps, but are picking up gradually.
  • It is expected that with 5G technology, consumers will be able to download data heavy content such as 8K movies and games with better graphics in just a few seconds.
  • The users will need to update to 5G-enabled devices to access the network, if they are not already using one. However, it is likely that the primary use of the technology will go beyond delivery of services on personal mobile devices.
  • 5G is expected to form the backbone of emerging technologies such as IoT and machine to machine communications, thereby supporting a much larger range of applications and services, such as tele-surgery and real time data analytics.
  • Ultra low latency offered by 5G makes the technology desirable for such use cases.
  • Latency is the amount of time data takes to travel between its source and destination.
  • 5G is expected to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion in India by 2035, the report added.


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