In the Union Budget speech 2022, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that India will hold its 5G spectrum auction later in 2021 and plans to roll out the super-fast network by the end of March 2023.
The budget stressed digital connectivity and laid out plans to connect all of India in the next 3 years.
Sitharaman outlined that all the villages in the country will be connected by fiber broadband by 2025 to enable affordable broadband connectivity. For this, the Minister said, “5 percent of annual collections under the universal service obligation fund will be utilized for promoting research and development and commercialization of technologies and solutions.”
Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) appreciated the government’s plans as pro-growth for India’s digital connectivity.
The Indian government had initially wanted to auction the 5G spectrum in 2021. The plan couldn’t substantiate due to COVID-19. But, it’s got a green signal to take place in early this year between April-May.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has allocated the 5G spectrums to Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea. Meanwhile, the telcos have begun their trials and are in an advanced stage of the commercial rollout. For an instance, Reliance Jio has already completed its plans to launch its 5G network from 1,000 cities. It has also demonstrated successful trains with connected drones on its homebrewed 5G network.
Telecom’s umbrella body in India, COAI praised the budget speech for its emphasis on digital connectivity. SP Kochhar, Director General of COAI said in a statement “We are glad to see the focus on the enhancement of digital connectivity and the announcement for the required spectrum auction in 2022 for the rollout of 5G mobile services.”
However, the body felt that the budget fell short of their long-sought demands. “We look forward to continued and constructive engagement with the government for reduction of levies on the telecom sector,” Kochhar added.
India’s DoT has recently laid out plans to launch 5G from 13 cities in the first phase. It also stipulates that operators include both rural and urban areas for the next-gen network to promote digital inclusivity.
As India heads for its 5G spectrum auction, the network awaits its commercial launch to revolutionize India’s broadband industry. The country is the world’s second-largest market for telecommunications and with 5G it could herald an explosion of the “internet economy” and narrow the digital divide.