Economic Times: India’s big bet on 5G in 2021 starts with 5G spectrum auction

Earlier this month K. Ramchand, Member (Technology), India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said that it would soon announce 5G spectrum bands for auction. That’s a clear indication that adopting 5G is now a priority for the government. Most Indian telecom service providers currently lack the financial resources to invest and build a 5G ecosystem, but the government has indicated that it is willing to start the process.

Lt. Gen Dr. S.P. Kochhar, Director General of COAI said:

“5G technology is poised to open up a plethora of possibilities in terms of business models, and overall, enhanced lifestyles for one and all. We seek the support of the government in enabling the industry to play its role as an enabler of horizontal growth and a boost to the nation’s economy. The 5G potential is immense and can turn the game for India and be a catalyst for the government’s campaigns such as Make in India, Digital India, Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

Enterprises are at an inflection point in partnering with companies focusing on technical skills and turnkey solutions to drive efficiencies and building efficient and future-ready networks.

According to Karthik Natarajan, President and COO, Cyient, “We are seeing significant investments in the communication network space. The current digital transformation will lead to enhanced user experience, increased operational efficiency and a competitive edge for the enterprise businesses. Our experience in design, delivery, deployment, migration, and support of network infrastructure globally makes us an ideal partner for 5G rollouts.”

Over the past few years, many global technology companies have set up a manufacturing base in India. Samsung got the nod from the Uttar Pradesh government to make OLED at its Noida factory recently. Though such investments are significant but investment in R&D, semiconductors and future technology need a lot of impetus. The big challenge that India faces in electronics manufacturing is the lack of a world-class semiconductor fabricating unit (FAB). It’s time the government either gets global players to invest in a Fab in India or start the work to build a domestic version.

Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India told Economic Times: “2020 has set the stage for 5G to go mainstream and in 2021 this will also lead to an increase in demand for next-gen 5G smartphones, newer applications and smart devices like smart TVs, tablets, phones integrated with voice interface, etc.  5G  will drive innovation across sectors such as remote working, gaming, healthcare, manufacturing, video, and data consumption which will drive the smart devices ecosystem.”

“This will also lead to an increase in demand for next-gen 5G smartphones, newer applications and smart devices like smart TVs, tablets, phones integrated with voice interface etc,” Jain added. Jain also believes that 2021 will tilt towards improved remote working capabilities and 5G chipsets will take “smartphone and smart device experience to the next level.”

Jain added that pandemic has catalyzed the growth of adoption of transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and cloud computing, among others.  MediaTek envisions a wide range of applications and devices driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) in the 5G era.

The Taiwanese fabless chip maker became the world’s #1 smartphone chipset vendor with a 31% market share in Q3 2020 helped by its growth in regions like India and China, and a strong performance in the $150-200 price band, as per market research firm Counterpoint Research’s estimates.

Last year, MediaTek launched a new gaming-based G-series, while Dimensity chipsets have helped in bringing 5G to affordable categories, according to Counterpoint Research.

It will be interesting and crucial to see how India can attract investments in future technologies with 5G making a tectonic shift in the TMT industry and presenting a range of economic opportunities in the next three to five years.


5G technology is expected to launch in the latter half of 2021 and will drive new business models, better education, healthcare, enable smart cities, smart manufacturing, among others, said SP Kochhar, director-general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in a statement.  That New Delhi-based group represents Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea as well as telecom gear makers such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and Cisco.

“The Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative will lead to revenue growth to $26.38 billion by 2020 while the number of internet subscribers in the country is expected to double by 2021 to 829 million, and overall IP traffic is expected to grow four times at a CAGR of 30% by 2021,” he added.

In the first quarter of this fiscal year through June, customer spending on voice and data services increased 16.6% year-on-year, amounting to Rs. 35,642 crore ($4.80 billion), on account of use of OTT platforms for voice communications, chat, online meetings, webinars, among others, Kochhar further said.

India plans to auction 2,251 MHz with a total valuation of Rs 3.92 trillion in March 2021. It will sell spectrum in 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands which couldfetch Rs 55,000 – 60,000 crore to the exchequer and even at this participation, the industry will have to shelve out around Rs. 20,000-25,000 crore upfront, ICRA had said in a statement.




4 thoughts on “Economic Times: India’s big bet on 5G in 2021 starts with 5G spectrum auction

  1. India should make 5G spectrum available at affordable rates to ensure the sector remains competitive, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has advised.

    Costly rates would allow service providers with better financial resources to launch 5G ahead of others, it fears.

    “The current financial health of the sector as a whole could result in an uneven speed of adoption of 5G by operators, the more profitable ones are likely to be faster off the block,” said the CCI in a study. “In case this scenario unfolds, it will have implications for the level of competition in the long run.”

    Reliance Jio is currently the only profitable service provider in India. While it plans to launch 5G later this year, rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have said they do not think the market is ready for 5G services.

  2. India telecom market leader Reliance Jio, second ranked Bharti Airtel and financially stressed Vodafone Idea (Vi) have filed applications for participation in the upcoming 4G spectrum auctions, due to start on March 1. The auction for over 2300 MHz of airwaves—valued at Rs 3.92 lakh crore at base price—though is likely to see limited bidding intensity for spectrum worth less than Rs 48,000 crore, with Jio and Airtel expected to be the main players. Industry executives have confirmed to ET that the three telcos have filed in their applications although Airtel, Jio and Vi did not respond to ET’s queries.

  3. DoT favors price cut for 5G, 700MHz bands
    The DoT is also likely to shortly seek a fresh base price for the 3300 MHz-3600 MHz band earmarked for 5G, the 700 MHz band, and other new bands which can be used for the next-gen technology. Following this, Trai will need to start a fresh consultation process for arriving at the prices. The regulator usually cuts prices of unsold spectrum.

  4. Indian network operator Vodafone Idea (Vi) has announced it has achieved peak speed in excess of 3.7 Gbps on the mmWave spectrum band, in Pune city (Maharashtra state). Vi reached peak download speeds of up to 1.5 Gbps in a 3.5 Ghz spectrum trial in Gandhinagar and Pune city.

    Vi is conducting 5G trials using mmWave spectrum allocated by the government. Vi received mmWave 26 GHz spectrum bands from India’s Department of Telecom (DoT), along with the traditional 3.5 GHz spectrum band, for 5G network trials.

    The trials are carried out in the cities of Pune (Maharashtra) and Gandhinagar (Gujarat). Vi’s 5G trial in the city of Pune took place in a lab setup using a captive network of Cloud Core transport and radio access network. In this trial, Vi has achieved peak speed in excess of 3.7 Gbps in the mmWave spectrum band.

    Vi has also achieved peak download speeds of up to 1.5 Gbps in its 5G trial network using the 3.5 Ghz spectrum, with its OEM partners in Gandhinagar and Pune city.–1397602

Comments are closed.