Indian Finance minister announces plans to auction 5G airwaves this year

People stand in front of a board depicting 5G network at the India Mobile Congress 2018 in New Delhi, India, October 26, 2018. || REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

On Tuesday, the country's finance minister said that 5G airwaves will be auctioned this year, beginning off a deployment of next-generation telecommunications services in the world's second-largest cellular market by the end of March 2023.

New Delhi will also provide incentives to promote more local design-led manufacturing to grow 5G in the nation, according to Nirmala Sitharaman, who delivered the budget for fiscal 2022-23 in parliament.

"The (5G) roll-out across the country will also happen much faster than other previous generation roll-outs because the finance minister in her speech has also talked about fiberisation of all villages by 2025," said Peeyush Vaish, partner and telecom sector leader at Deloitte India.

Late last year, India's federal government announced steps to help the country's cash-strapped telecommunications sector, including a four-year freeze on airwaves payments and the ability for mobile carriers to convert interest owed to New Delhi into equity.

This has freed up capital for telecoms businesses to spend in development and expansion, possibly making the country's three biggest carriers - Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel (BRTI.NS), and Vodafone Idea - compete for 5G airwaves this year (VODA.NS).

Jio, the telecommunications venture of Reliance Industries (RELI.NS), the oil-to-retail giant, has already stated that it will be the first carrier to deliver 5G services in India.

India has over a billion cellular users, and the country's massive market potential prompted Facebook (FB.O) and Google (GOOGL.O) to invest around $10 billion in Jio, the country's largest mobile provider, in 2020.

Google has increased its stakes by announcing a $1 billion investment in Jio's competitor Bharti Airtel, which was disclosed last month.

Publish : 2022-02-01 16:08:00

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