5G Spectrum Auctions in 2022: Stakeholders Positive About Next-Gen Network Launch in India

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Tuesday at the presentation of the 2022 Union budget that the required spectrum auctions for 5G telecommunications networks will be implemented in 2022, she said in her speech. She also added that the spectrum auctions could enable the provisioning of 5G services by private telecoms in 2022-2023 – in line with the previously indicated timeline where the next generation of cellular connectivity was expected to be rolled out in the coming months.

The announcement made by Sitharaman was considered a positive move by smartphone manufacturers.

“With implementation of 5G technology within 2022-2023 by private telecom providers, we predict rapid growth and an enormous opportunity presented for the demand for 5G-enabled devices,” said Sanmeet Singh Kochhar, Vice President for India and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA))) by Nokia brand license holder HMD Global.

He added that 5G would open up new economic opportunities and benefits for India.

A spokesperson for Xiaomi also stated that the rollout of 5G services in the country would make the country future-proof.

“We are excited about the government’s commitment to roll out 5G in 2023, which will go to a new year of interconnected devices,” the spokesman said.

Venu Cherian, Chief Financial Officer at Sennheiser India, said the advent of 5G networks in the country would benefit not only smartphones but also other sectors, including those catering to media and entertainment.

“With the announcement of the 5G Spectrum Auctions to be held this year and the rapid adoption of 5G mobile services, we are bound to see an increase in content usage, which in turn will lead to a potential rise in ‘ the audio-accessory sector, “Cherian emphasized.

He also added that the lower latency and higher bandwidths would bring the 5G environment a new experience for the wireless audio transmission of music.

Foxconn-owned electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company Bharat FIH believes the announcement of the 5G spectrum auctions would result in an impetus in the demand for 5G phones in the country.

“The announcement will enable more consumers to be included in the next level of digital economy,” said Josh Foulger, Managing Director, Bharat FIH.

However, Tarun Pathak, Research Director at research firm Counterpoint, believed that the 5G launch would not bring significant changes to the smartphone market.

“We expect 5G smartphone sales to increase threefold this year, even without networks, and brands still want to go aggressive on the same as 5G, because a feature is the third preferred as per Counterpoint consumer lenses,” said Pathak . “That, I think nothing will change much regarding OEM strategy. But we now have at least clarity about auctions.”

In addition to announcing the launch of 5G spectrum auctions, Sitharaman announced that the government would launch a production-led design scheme to build a 5G ecosystem. It will be available as part of the Production Linked Incentive Scheme, she said.

The minister also stated that the government would complete the longest-running optical fiber-based project called BharatNet by 2025. The project is being promoted to provide high speed internet connection in villages and remote areas.

Peeyush Vaish, Partner and Telecom Sector Leader at Deloitte India, noted that the planned moves would accelerate the rollout of 5G services across the country across previous generations of cellular networks.

“The outbreak across the country will also happen much faster than any other offensive of the previous generation, given the fact that the Minister of Finance, in her speech, also talked about fiberization of all villages in 2025,” Vaish said.

Nitin Bansal, Managing Director for India and Head of Networks for Southeast Asia, Oceania and India, at Ericsson, stated that the telecom-targeted announcements made by the Minister of Finance would bring the “naked impetus” to establish reliable internet connection in the country make.

Telco’s are also positive about the plans set out in the 2022 budget speech. However, the body of the telecommunications industry Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) expressed some disappointment over delayed government adaptation of requirements by the sector.

“We are committed to pursuing the Digital India Vision of our Honorable Prime Minister, however, we are a little disappointed that our long-standing demands will not be addressed,” said SP Kochhar, Director-General, COAI. “We look forward to continued and constructive cooperation with the government to reduce charges in the telecoms sector.”

Details about the price band and exact timelines of the spectrum auctions for 5G airwaves have yet to be revealed. Given the ongoing losses affecting telcoes including Vi, it is also unclear whether all players have the efficiency to bid well for the next generation of network technology.

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