The government is currently planning a spectrum auction, including 5G frequencies, sometime between March and April this year
Despite pledges by Modi’s government to make India a world-leader in 5G, the process has seen continued delays, lagging behind countries like the US, South Korea and China, where 5G networks are already live.
5G trials have been announced, but many of the details surrounding them remain unclear. Operators will reportedly have access to the 3300–3600 MHz band allocated to 5G, as well as to the 700 MHz band and the highly desirable, super-fast 26 GHz band. However, the pricing for these spectrums has yet to be set and the quantity available to each bidder is unclear.
The trials will also be drastically shorter than the norm, with telcos only being given six months to test their network connectivity, compared to the usual one year duration.
In a decision praised by China, it has been announced that Huawei and ZTE will be allowed to participate in these trials, ending a year of speculation. However, their future in India remains unclear; whilst they will be allowed to bid on the spectrum, their Chinese vendors’ ability to build 5G networks in the country will be dependent on meeting government regulations.
“The telecom department will evaluate 5G trials for security vulnerabilities before taking a final call on the vendors who will be allowed to deploy the next generation airwaves in the country,” said a spokesperson.
The Indian government is currently caught between a rock and a hard place in the ongoing trade war between China and the US, as well as facing internal pressure over security concerns.
“Presence of Chinese companies in our telecommunications network would compromise our national security,” wrote the political and cultural organisation Swadeshi Jagaran Manch – an organisation with close ties to India’s ruling party – in a letter to the prime minister earlier this week.
More details relating to these trials are presumably forthcoming, but what is clear is that telcos have just 10 days to supply the Indian government with fresh applications if they are to participate later this year.
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