DoT finalises rules for private 5G spectrum leases

DoT finalises rules for private 5G spectrum leases

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reportedly said it has finalised rules that will allow telcos to lease spectrum to enterprises for private 5G networks, and will be releasing them "soon".

According to ETTelecom, citing a goverment offical, the rules will allow any entity with a private network to obtain spectrum from one or more telcos on terms tailored to their requirements.

Once a telco signs a spectrum leasing deal with a private network owner, it will have 15 days to inform the DoT about the detailsm such as which spectrum will be leased, how much spectrum, the lease period and the geographic area.

Meanwhile, private network operators will need to obtain clearance from the Standing Advisory Committee On Frequency Allocation (SACFA) before starting operations. It will also be up to both parties to ensure the private network using the spectrum doesn’t interfere with public networks.

The new rules are expected to provide Indian telcos with a long-awaited new revenue stream from 5G.

Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel launched 5G services in October 2022, and have been aggressively rolling out 5G across the country since then. Both expect to complete rollouts later this year.

Consumer uptake of 5G in India has been relatively healthy in the service's early stage but remains a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the market. As of the end of November 2023, according to government figures, around 100 million people have subscribed to 5G so far. However, the latest figures from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India say there were 1.15 billion wireless subscribers at the end of October 2023. 

As such, telcos are keen for any new avenue for monestising their extensive 5G investments beyond the consumer market. The DoT official said telcos will be able to count revenue earned through private spectrum leasing in their gross revenue, according to the report.

Ericsson has forecast 860 million 5G subscribers in India by 2029.

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