India’s DoT delays 5G spectrum auction (again) to June 25

India’s DoT delays 5G spectrum auction (again) to June 25

On the eve of its next 5G spectrum auction, India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reportedly delayed the auction yet again, setting a new timeline for the auction to take place on June 25.

The auction – which was originally slated for May 20 – was delayed until June 6 so that it could take place after the country’s general elections, the results of which were announced today.

However, according to ETTelecom, on Tuesday the DoT amended its Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) – which outlines the auction rules – to push back the mock auctions to June 13 and 14, with the actual auction commencing on June 25. No reason has been given for the latest postponement.

The auction will offer up spectrum in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz bands, worth a potential INR963.1 billion (US$11.3 billion).

However, while private telcos Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have officially submitted their applications for the auction, industry analysts are not expecting any of them to fork out much, the report said.

For one thing, the earnest money deposits (EMDs) submitted by the telcos ahead of the auction are the lowest since 2014, and up to 86% lower than the 5G auction in 2022, the report said.

Another potential factor is that despite Jio and Airtel having completed their initial 5G rollouts, actual uptake of 5G remains low. Consequently, they have enough 5G spectrum to serve market demand for the immediate future. The same goes for Vodafone Idea, which has only just started rolling out 5G and plans offer services later this year.

Some analysts told ETTelecom that Airtel and Vodafone are likely to focus on spectrum bands whose licences are up for renewal. Jio, which has no imminent renewals pending, could conceivably decide not to bid at all, the report added.

According to media reports Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to keep his post despite his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) falling short of winning a majority of seats. According to India’s Election Commission, the BJP won 240 seats, whereas 272 are needed to secure a majority. That’s also way short of the 303 seats the BJP secured in the last general election in 2019.

However, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition won 294 seats, which means Modi will need the support of other parties in the coalition to form the next government, according to the Associated Press.

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