The Union Cabinet has approved the auction of airwaves capable of offering fifth generation, or 5G, telecom services, including ultra-high-speed Internet. It also gave its nod for setting up of captive 5G networks by big tech firms.


What has been approved?

  • Approval for 5G auctions —
      • The Cabinet has approved 5G auctions at reserve prices recommended by the sector regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The sale is valued at over Rs 4.5 lakh crore just at the reserve price.
      • With this, the country is set to witness the biggest-ever auction of spectrum with the government putting up 72,000 MHz of mobile airwaves on sale. This is the largest such quantity being sold at one go.
      • The 5G spectrum in nine frequency bands will be auctioned to telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.
  • Nod for captive 5G networks —
      • The Cabinet also gave its nod for setting up of captive 5G networks by big tech firms.
      • As per the notice, big tech firms will be allowed to take the 5G spectrum for their captive non-public network, on lease from the telecom companies.
          • However, direct allocation to the big tech companies will follow a demand study and TRAI’s recommendation on aspects such as pricing and modalities of such allocation.
          • Captive 5G networks are also known as private 5G network.
          • It is essentially a local area network that uses 3GPP-based network spectrum, to create unified connectivity and a secure means of communication within a specific area.
          • Private 5G network is on the cusp of taking off around the world.
          • Last year, Germany issued 5G private licenses to over 33 companies — like BASF, BMW, Bosch, Lufthansa etc — to run exclusive networks.


What is 5G?

  • 5G refers to 5th generation mobile network. When rolled out, it will represent a quantum leap over the current 4G mobile networks.
  • If successfully implemented, it can deliver 10 times faster internet and more than 10 times improvement in latency (the time difference between sending and receiving messages) over 4G.
  • Ultimately 5G is expected to reduce latency to 1 millisecond (one thousandth of a second). Human reaction time is around 200-250 milliseconds.
  • Hypothetically devices connected to 5G, can have a response time that is 200 times faster than humans.
  • 5G also comes with substantially more capacity and hence will enable more connected devices without issues of network congestion.