India not to include 600 MHz spectrum in upcoming auction: Report

The government of India aims to conduct a new spectrum auction in March

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will not auction the 600 MHz band in the upcoming spectrum auction as the body aims to conduct more studies to ensure there is no interference with satellite operations, local press reported.

According to local newspaper The Economic Times, an official said that India wanted to be part of the countries offering IMT in 600 MHz, but that this was opposed by China.

The 600 MHz spectrum band was put on sale in the last auction in August 2022, but it remained unsold.

The DoT plans to conduct a new spectrum auction in March, because spectrum permits of local carriers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea expire in 2024 in certain areas of the country.

According to government officials, all the unsold frequencies from the previous spectrum auction, as well as some additional frequencies in the 37 GHz band, will be put up on sale in the upcoming process.

Previous reports stated that local operators Reliance Jio Infocomm and Bharti Airtel could probably be the sole bidders in the upcoming auction, because Vodafone Idea lacks the funds to bid in the process.

Bharti Airtel previously said it won’t buy airwaves in the 700 MHz band in the next 5G spectrum sale. The company noted it will only focus on the acquisition of frequencies in those markets where its spectrum holdings are expiring in 2024.

Airtel’s spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz bands will expire in 2024 in West Bengal, UP-East, UP-West, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Northeast and J&K.

Airtel did not acquire 700 MHz spectrum in India’s previous 5G spectrum auction, claiming that its existing spectrum holdings in the mid-band coupled with the new 5G airwaves bought in the 3.3 GHz and 26 GHz bands were sufficient for the provision of  quality 5G services across the country.

India completed its first 5G spectrum auction in July 2022. Reliance Jio walked away with the most spectrum, having spent $11 billion. Airtel won spectrum worth $5.4 billion, while Vodafone received spectrum worth $2.4 billion. Finally, Adani purchased spectrum worth approximately $27 million, which it will use to offer private 5G network services.

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