BSNL to be allocated 5G spectrum – but what about India’s big three operators?

BSNL to be allocated 5G spectrum – but what about India’s big three operators?

Recent news from India indicates that there has been a lot of activity and comment relating to 5G spectrum and its pricing and allocation. However, whether this will help to advance the rollout of 5G is hard to say.

On paper at least, the government’s recently announced decision to allocate spectrum to BSNL and MTNL for 5G and future services may be helpful for the two state-owned operators. Allocation of spectrum to BSNL and MTNL will apparently be on the same principle as proposed for allocation of spectrum for 4G services.

However, as we have reported earlier, 4G spectrum recently allocated to BSNL involves the tricky business of the operator sourcing 4G core technology from local companies that may not be ready to supply it. Will the same apply to 5G?

Of course this doesn’t help the big three operators much. In fact Bharti Enterprises vice chairman Rajan Mittal has been quoted as suggesting that without cuts to 5G spectrum base prices the country could be staring at a third failed auction in the near future. Bharti Enterprises owns operator Bharti Airtel.

Mittal was referring, one presumes, to the 700MHz band, which has twice gone unsold in 4G auctions.

However, there’s another interesting twist to the story in the form of a recent government statement that spectrum auctioned earlier this month can be used for deploying 5G services. The operators involved have yet to indicate whether they will do so.

Recent spectrum bids saw sales in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2300MHz bands. As mentioned earlier, the 700MHz spectrum put up for auction remains unsold.

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