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5G spectrum auction: What is 5G spectrum, how does the auction work and when will it be rolled out?



The 5G auction in India has started today. The entire process will take a few days to complete. Check everything you need to know including what it means, what is the auction process and the expected rollout dates.

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After months of preparation, the 5G auction in India has finally begun today. The long awaited dream of becoming a 5G capable nation for India is now in its final stages. The 5G spectrum auction started today, July 26, at 10 AM and the process will go on for a few days till the entire spectrum is auctioned. According to reports, 72GHz of radiowaves will be disbursed for a total amount of Rs. 4.3 lakh crore. The bidding is currently underway and now the individual stakeholders will buy the spectrum based on their business strategy and demand of radiowaves to create operational 5G infrastructure. Read on to know what 5G spectrum is, how the auction process works and what is the expected timeline for actual 5G rollout in India.

What is 5G spectrum

5G is the fifth-generation mobile network. It follows up after 3G and 4G networks and adds more speed and reduced latency to the network to make connectivity faster, across a greater bandwidth and more instantaneous in nature. The biggest benefit of 5G will be the ability to transfer huge amounts of data in just seconds. For reference, the 5G network in South Korea reaches more than 400 Mbps, meaning you can download 1 GB worth of data in just a little over two seconds.

The maximum speed possible on a 4G network is 150 Mbps while the maximum speed on a 5G network is 10Gbps. It is expected that wide-spread 5G networks can propel cutting-edge technology like augmented-reality, virtual reality, metaverse and wide-network online gaming.

5G auction in India: How does the process work?

Four bidders are participating in the 5G auction namely Adani Enterprises, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vi (formerly known as Vodafone Idea). All the four participants had deposited EDM (Earnest Money Deposit) ahead of the auction to be eligible for the process. For the unaware, EDM indicates the likelihood of a participant in purchasing the spectrum. The higher the amount submitted, higher the chance of a bidder in actually buying radiowaves.

Among the four participants, the smallest EDM share comes from Adani Enterprise at Rs. 100 crore whereas the highest share has been deposited by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio at Rs. 14,000 crores. This means that Jio has the highest capability of purchasing 5G spectrum among all other participants. The remaining two participants, Vi and Bharti Airtel have deposited Rs. 2,200 crores and Rs. 5,500 crores respectively.

The government has announced that total 5G spectrum worth 72GHz will be auctioned across several frequency bands including 600MHz, 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz, 3300MHz, and 26GHz. It should be noted that this is just the first phase of the auction. The first phase is likely to witness bids for low and mid-tier 5G radiowaves. The more expensive higher 5G bands are expected to come up later, depending on the needs and requirements of the individual companies.

When is the 5G rollout in India expected

Earlier, it was reported that the rollouts will begin in August 2022, however, after multiple delays, that target seems unfeasible. The earliest expected dates for 5G band testing by these companies for commercial usage can be in September and October, although there is no confirmed timelines for it. Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had earlier stated that 20-25 Indian cities will get the access to 5G networks before the end of the year 2022.

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