Cabinet approves mega 5G auction

Tech firms can set up captive networks

Updated - June 19, 2022 09:24 pm IST

Published - June 15, 2022 11:59 am IST - New Delhi

Representational image only.

Representational image only.

The Union Cabinet has approved the auction of airwaves capable of offering fifth generation, or 5G, telecom services, including ultra high-speed Internet, and gave its nod for setting up of captive 5G networks by big tech firms.

The auction of over 72 GHz of the spectrum will be held by July-end, said an official statement detailing the decision taken by the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at its meeting held on Tuesday.

The spectrum auction will start on July 26, 2022.

Sources said that the Cabinet has approved 5G auctions at reserve prices recommended by the sector regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

TRAI had earlier recommended about a 39% reduction in the reserve or floor price for the sale of 5G spectrum for mobile services.

While the 5G spectrum in nine frequency bands will be auctioned to telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, the Notice Inviting Applications — bid-related document issued by the Department of Telecom (DoT) — said big tech firms for the time being will be allowed to take the 5G spectrum for their captive non-public network, on lease from the telecom companies.

The notice inviting offer said direct allocation to the big tech companies will follow a demand study and sector regulator TRAI’s recommendation on aspects such as pricing and modalities of such allocation.

Big tech companies like Google have been seeking direct allocation of spectrum for applications such as machine-to-machine communications, IoT and AI, while telecom companies have been opposing direct allocation of 5G spectrum to them saying it will distort the level playing field and rob the government of revenues.

According to the document, the auction is slated to start on July 26, 2022. Among other key dates to watch out for is the pre-bid conference scheduled for June 20, 2022, submission of applications with a deadline of July 8, and pre-qualification of bidders on July 18. Mock auctions will be held on July 22 and 23, 2022.

Overall, the payment terms have been eased for bidders in the coming auction.

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