With just about a week to go for the 5G spectrum auctions, industry stakeholders seem to be gearing up to grab a share of the airwaves. In addition to the three private telcos, the Adani Group has announced its participation in the 5G auctions through its subsidiary, Adani Data Networks. The company has also received a letter of intent from the Depart­ment of Telecommunications (DoT) for the grant of unified licence with the authorisation of ILD (national area), NLD (national area) and ISP-B in the Gujarat circle.

Recently, the four key participants in the 5G spectrum auctions have submitted their earnest money deposit (EMD) totalling about Rs 218 billion to DoT. Among the telcos, Reliance Jio has submitted the highest EMD of Rs 140 billion, while Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) have submitted Rs 55 billion and Rs 22 billion, respectively. Meanwhile, Adani Data Networks, the new participant, has submitted an EMD of Rs 1 billion.

As per the latest data released by DoT, Jio with the highest deposits has collected 159,830 eligibility points while Airtel has been allocated 66,330 points, followed by Vi and Adani Data Networks with 29,370 and 1,650 points, respectively. With the current points tally, all four players can bid for any band in any licensed service area, depending on the spectrum cap.

Meanwhile, L&T Technology Services has become the first technology company to publicly express its interest in the government’s direct allocation of spectrum for captive 5G networks. According to the company, it has applied for 5G spectrum for its Mysore campus to build use cases in medical emergency room settings and remote operating procedures.

L&T’s announcement comes after the government recently issued rules allowing non-telecom enterprises to acquire spectrum directly from DoT for setting up private 5G networks. As per the rules, DoT will not charge licence or entry fees for the allotment of spectrum to enterprises and will only levy a nominal processing fee of Rs 50,000. However, DoT plans to undertake demand studies and seek TRAI’s recommendations before allocating spectrum.

Net, net, the manifold use cases of 5G technology seem to be widening the horizon of players keen to leverage the technology. This is indicative of increasing competition in the industry. For instance, the surprise entry of the Adani Group in the auction has become a bone of contention. While the company has categorically stated that it plans to use the spectrum only to build private 5G networks across its ports and airports, stakeholders are concerned that it might create a stir (like Reliance Jio did) in the consumer mobility space. All eyes are now on the upcoming auction as it sets the ball rolling for India’s 5G roll-out and ushers in a new era in the telecom industry.