Jio Airtel Vodafone Idea: Telecom operators ask for a one-year extension for 5G trials

Telecom operators have requested a one-year extension to conduct 5G trials, as their licenses expire on November 26, industry executives said. If the telecoms department accepts this, it would push the auction of 5G spectrum back to the second half of 2022.

“All three operators want to extend their trials for another year,” an industry official told ET. While Reliance Jio Infocomm and

had started their trials in June this year, started the trials only a month ago.

At the end of May, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) allocated 5G test spectrum for six months in the 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands, paving the way for Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) to join forces and develop India. relevant use cases on next generation fast wireless broadband technology.

But telecom operators, in separate letters recently sent to the telecoms department, cited the 5G ecosystem partners’ lack of preparedness as one of the reasons they requested an extension of the trial period.

But a one-year extension would mean 5G trials will continue until November 2022, and the sale would take place after that, experts say. The government has announced its intention to hold the next auctions in the January-March 2022 quarter.

Emails sent to the three telecommunications operators, Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea did not elicit a response.

“Ecosystem partners are essential to the true success of trials. And telecom operators face various challenges when it comes to preparing various ecosystem partners, ”said a second industry executive.

In addition, telecom operators expect that many application providers will not be ready until the next calendar year. Telecom operators said the extension would also provide the time to engage more stakeholders and test use cases in verticals such as medicine and retail.

The companies said 5G technology is different from previous technologies because it has multiple uses in business outside of consumer applications and partnering with businesses takes much longer than previously thought.

According to the executives, one of the telecom operators in the letter to DoT said that since this is the first time their teams are working on 5G technology and are facing technical challenges such as organizing resources necessary for tests such as handsets, devices, test kits, etc.

Despite planning in advance, telecom operators stressed that considerable time had already passed in these trials to find solutions to overcome various challenges, the person said.

The DoT recently requested base price recommendations from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for a number of bands, including 700 MHz, 3.3 -3.6 Ghz and millimeter waves. .

According to the latest reserve price set by the telecommunications regulator, 100 MHz of 5G spectrum in the 3.3-3.6 GHz band, which would be the average size required to deploy 5G technology, would be priced at Rs 50,000 crore. Telecom operators say the price is too expensive for them and hope the regulator will lower the starting price, in its new recommendations.

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