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India’s race to rollout 5G begins

The country's largest auction for 5G airwaves was held to grant a 20-year tenure in various frequency bands ranging from 600 MHz to 26 GHz.

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NEW DELHI: Last week Indian government announced it had put 72,098 MHz (72 GHz) spectrum of 5G airwaves to auction — a move has kicked off the race for the rollout of 5G in India.

According to the federal ministry of communications, 51,236 MHz (51 GHz) spectrum, which constitutes 71 percent of the total, has been sold and the bid reached 18.8 billion U.S. dollars.

The auctions for the 5G spectrum were held in the last week of July, which saw two of India’s richest men — Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani battling to control the country’s digital future and faster data in the world’s major internet market.

The bidders included all the three major mobile operators in India — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. However, the fourth contender was a new entrant — Adani data Networks Limited, owned by Adani.

The country’s largest auction for 5G airwaves was held to grant a 20-year tenure in various frequency bands ranging from 600 MHz to 26 GHz.

The total bid amount of 18.8 billion dollars and the annual installment to be paid by all the participants is 1.68 billion dollars, an official statement said.

According to the communications ministry, the 600 MHz bands was put to auction for the first time. However, no bids were received for this band.

Experts say spectrum is very important for telecom connectivity and with better availability of spectrum, the quality of services is expected to improve.

India expects the rollout of 5G networks to begin from August to September.

In June, India’s federal telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnav said by the end of this year the service will be rolled out in 20-25 cities and towns of the country.

The minister said India, with its current data prices significantly lower than the global average, will continue to set rate benchmarks as new services are rolled out.

5G will allow far more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time because of the greater use of the radio spectrum.

With the rollout of 5G in India, the country is believed to usher in a new era of high-speed internet, which will boost the live-streaming of videos by allowing faster data download and upload speeds.

It will also enable the use of advanced connected devices through cloud computing technologies.

Market observers say the move will also add to sales of 5G phones.

In May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the rollout of 5G will contribute 450 billion dollars to the Indian economy in the next 15 years.

Modi called for collaborative efforts from the government and industry and stated that the step will not only increase the speed of the internet but will accelerate the pace of development and employment generation.

Local media last week reported Reliance Jio might launch its 5G services on Aug. 15. The report quotes Akash Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio, saying they will celebrate the elixir of energy of independence with a pan-India 5G rollout.

-Peerzada Arshad Hamid/Xinhua

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