The inclusion of a new band -- 26GHz -- is a distant proposition in the spectrum auction which stands as has been decided by the Digital Communications Commission, official sources said on Friday. While industry has been seeking inclusion of the 26GHz band in the upcoming spectrum auction, the sources, however, said the pricing and other modalities for 5G bands of 24.75-27.25GHz (26GHz band) needs through consideration by telecom regulator, which would require a minimum time of six months.
"As of now. we are going by what the Digital Communication Commission (DCC) has decided on the timing and quantum of the spectrum auction in its December 18 meeting," an official said.
Earlier this month, the DCC cleared the largest ever airwaves auction, which could fetch the government over Rs. 5 lakh crores.
Telecom companies are preparing to bid for 8,300MHz of 4G and 5G spectrum auction that is set to take place in March-April 2020.
Airwaves in the 3,300-3,600MHz band, earmarked for 5G services, will make their debut in the upcoming auction.
The 700MHz band went unsold in the last sale in October 2016, when the government raised Rs. 65,789 crores by selling only 40 percent of the 2,300MHz airwaves on offer.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in a year-end note said: "We request an early referral from DoT (Department of Telecommunications) to TRAI to make a recommendation for including the 26GHz band for the planned spectrum auction in conjunction with other bands as this is imperative and will have a significant bearing on realising the deployment of 5G in India".
Regulator TRAI had, on August 1, 2018, recommended auction of spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz, 2500MHz, 3300-3400MHz and 3400-3600MHz bands.
Fifth generation (5G) bands of 24.75-27.25GHz are sought after for 5G services due to their technical prowess, adequate quantity and affordability.
The COAI had earlier said that the quantum of spectrum in the 5G band being put up for auction in March-April will be only 175MHz, which is "woefully inadequate" for operators for rolling out a robust 5G network.