If Indian press reports prove true, both the country’s Ministry of Defence and its Department of Space may soon give up their claims on parts of the 3300-3600 MHz spectrum.
This, of course, would be a boost for planned operator rollout of 5G. At the moment the 3300-3400 MHz band is held by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and a block of 25 units (3400-3425 MHz) is used by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
In the past, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has repeatedly asked the two groups to vacate the 125 MHz of radiowaves, so this would be a sign of real progress in 5G spectrum allocation.
There’s a long way to go, however, when it comes to clearing the way for 5G auctions. Even though a new committee aimed at simplifying and clarifying the country’s spectrum allocation process was set up late last year, there still seem to be issues bothering the Department of Space related to potential 5G interference with satellite hubs. There’s also the problem of the 26GHz-28GHz band, which both the DoT and operators would like to see made available, not least in the light of 5G standards approval for the 26GHz band from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The ongoing issue of price also remains unresolved. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended a base price of somewhere in the region of $67.4 million per unit for spectrum in the 5G band. The telecommunications industry, not surprisingly, wants a better price and more choice of spectrum.
The good news is that there will almost certainly be a 4G auction in March in a number of bands. However, it’s hard to know when or whether 5G will follow.