Telcos may push back 5G rollout for 5 years: Report

Representative image. (DH File photo)

Telecom companies are likely to push back rollout of 5G network by at least five years due to exorbitant base prices and insufficient spectrum, according to a report by The Economic Times. 

“We will push out 5G for at least five years. That’s the operator perspective,” Rajan S Mathews, director-general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), told the newspaper. Mathews said that earlier there was a pricing problem but now the quantum issue has surfaced.

Major private telecom players such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea and gear makers such as Huawei, Ericsson, Cisco, and Ciena are a part of COAI. 
“Pricing originally started off as a problem for the industry. With the Rs 492 crore for 1 MHz, most operators said it was not a viable proposition given the debt and international prices,” Mathews said.

Last month, industry experts raised concerns over spectrum demand of Indian Space Research Organisation and the telecom ministry's proposed conditions to roll out mobile services in 26 gigahertz band. They noted that it may make deployment of 5G services in the country challenging. 

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has accepted ISRO's demand to use 26 GHz band, in which the 5G ecosystem has been developed, primarily for satellite service. Consequently, the department has submitted this proposal for consideration to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which sets a global benchmark for wireless services.

The proposal allows the use of 26 GHz band for mobile services with conditions to ensure that the 5G services will not interfere with satellite operations.

According to a Research and Development associate of a multinational telecom gear maker, the DoT proposal hardly leaves any room for the deployment of 5G in India.

"Based on the proposal, DoT will have only around 1.25 to 1.5 GHz of spectrum in 26 GHz for 5G services in total. An operator will require at least 1 GHz of spectrum in higher frequency band, proposed 26 GHz band at present, to roll out 5G as stated by ITU. The critical 5G applications may fail if sufficient bandwidth is not provided," the R&D official, who did not wish to be named, told PTI.
 

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