India’s 5G rollout is already behind schedule due to repeated delays (from early 2020) in the 5G spectrum auction. It now appears that the auction will be delayed even further, resulting in even more delays in 5G rollout. The competing interests of telecom service providers (TSPs) and technology giants seeking private networks appear to have slowed the auctioning of 5G spectrum, causing the delay, according to a recent The Hindu Businessline report.
The auction was meant to take place in early June, according to India’s Telecom Minister, but there would be a delay because the Cabinet has not yet adapted the TRAI’s plan. Because issuing the notice inviting applications (NIA) and holding stakeholder meetings can take at least 45 days from the date of Cabinet approval, the auction is unlikely to take place in June.
The main reason for the delay is that various industry bodies and tech giants have requested that the captive 5G networks be allocated to them. Despite the fact that 5G private network users’ spectrum allocation has been excluded from the upcoming auction, these players have addressed the government through their representative bodies. They argue that keeping them out of the country will adversely impact the country’s efforts to digitalize its economy and make its products more competitive in the global market.
The Broadband India Forum (BIF), whose members include Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel, Adani, and Reliance, among others, urged the government to provide this spectrum via an administered allocation route at a nominal rate or for free. Furthermore, TRAI recommended allocating 5G spectrum to enterprises for the construction of their own private captive networks, which they day improves industry efficiency.
The BIF urged the Government to provide these spectrum through administered allocation route at some nominal rates or give it for free. “We should think of the country, the consumer…it is the benefit of the consumer, efficiency of the enterprise and finally improvement of the economy. It (spectrum) is strictly for captive usage for improvement of efficiency,” said TV Ramachandran, President at BIF.
He said not only 5G, but captive network can be set up with 4G also, which the industry body has been requesting the government to open up. For instance, airports, ports, hotels and hospitals around the world use captive network to communicate within their campuses, and that gives faster response time, too.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its recommendations, had also said that non-telecom enterprises would be allocated a 5G spectrum for building their private networks.
For captive network, spectrum is assigned to enterprises, is utilized within a limited geographic area. Therefore, it is also referred as spectrum for localized or local use. Spectrum assigned for localised private captive networks is used in such a manner that the signals are restricted within its geographic area and do not cause interference to other outside systems.