India expects 5G deployment from August; Vi to receive equity conversion

India expects 5G deployment from August; Vi to receive equity conversion

Following India’s upcoming spectrum auctions, 5G rollouts are expected across August and September.

This is according to Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Union Minister for Railways, Communication, Electronics and IT, who publicly stated at a recent event: “‘I can say with confidence that 5G deployment will start in at least 20-25 cities and towns by year-end.”

As we have previously reported, India’s government is auctioning a total of 72097.85MHz of spectrum across the 600MHz, 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz, 3300MHz and 26GHz frequency bands.

Parties wishing to bid must apply before 8th July, with the finalised list of applicants to be published on 20th July, ahead of the auction itself on the 26th July. All licences have a 20-year validity period.

The Financial Express reports that Vi (Vodafone Idea) will have its participation in the auction facilitated by the government, which has agreed to convert the beleaguered operator’s INR161.3 billion (US$2.09 billion) debt into equity before the bidding takes place.

Under Section 62 (4) of the Companies Act, Vi will be able to issue shares on a preferential basis to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM). Once the equity conversion is complete, the Indian government will hold a 32% stake in Vi, reducing the total percentage of the stakes held by existing backers Vodafone Group and Aditya Birla Group from 75% to 50%.

Under the arrangement, the government will treat the stake in Vi as a public shareholding, noting that it will have no input into the company’s board or management.

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