The month of May 2022 has been an eventful one in shaping India’s 5G journey. A number of policy and regulatory decisions have been taken to speed up the delivery of 5G services in the country.
For one, the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) has accepted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on pricing of 5G spectrum despite continued opposition from telecom operators. Another key opinion expressed by the DCC is to keep the millimetre wave spectrum in the 27.5-28.5 GHz range in the upcoming 5G spectrum auctions and retain it for satellite players planning to offer satellite-based broadband services. Further, the DCC maintains that the airwaves should be auctioned for 20 years.
Now, the final decision on the modalities of the 5G spectrum auction, expected to be conducted around June-July 2022, in terms of pricing, timeline of spectrum allotment and other issues, will be taken by the union cabinet. The DCC is reportedly all set to approach the union cabinet soon.
While the DCC’s acceptance of TRAI’s recommendations has been a major move on the policy front, the launch of the GatiShakti Sanchar portal for centralised right-of-way (RoW) approvals has been a big move on the regulatory front. With the launch of the portal, a long-standing demand of the industry in terms of having a common single portal for seeking RoW permissions to lay optical fibre cable and erect mobile towers has been fulfilled. By facilitating timely disposal of RoW applications of telecom service providers and infrastructure providers, the portal will help in enabling speedy infrastructure creation, thereby enabling timely roll-out of 5G networks.
Another laudable recent measure is the inauguration of the country’s first 5G testbed to enable start-ups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce the dependence on foreign facilities. The 5G testbed, developed at an estimated cost of Rs 2.2 billion, will help start-ups and other players to validate their products, prototypes and solutions for 5G as well as other next-generation technologies.
Together, these initiatives reflect the government’s willingness to enable a faster transition towards 5G. The industry is now waiting on the union cabinet’s decision on finalising the modalities of the 5G spectrum auction, which would set the ball rolling for 5G roll-outs in the country.