It believes the telco’s 3.3 GHz holdings in its priority circles are good enough to provide a quality 5G experience for several years, analysts, who participated in the telco’s June quarter earnings call Thursday, said.
“Vi has limited clarity on Jio’s strategy of acquiring 700MHz…it believes this spectrum does not provide additional 5G capacity, and that its 50 units of 3.3GHz spectrum in each of (priority) circles is good enough to provide a great 5G experience for several years,” BofA Securities said in note.
Analysts added that Vi does not foresee any 5G rollout challenges as many 5G networks are running on mid-bands. They also expect 5G services to be offered in the initial years through the NSA or `non-standalone’ mode, for which a network using a combination of 3.3GHz and 26GHz spectrum should be sufficient for both 5G coverage and capacity.
The telco’s views come shortly after
executives said the carrier would be offering a similar 5G experience like its nearest rival – Reliance Jio – which has bought the 700MHz band in the recent 5G auction. officials added the telco doesn’t plan to buy the band in the future auctions as well. The telco, like , didn’t buy the 700 MHz band in the just ended auction.
Airtel officials also told ET that its existing spectrum holdings in the mid-band (read: 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz) coupled with the new 5G airwaves bought in the 3.3 GHz/26 Ghz are enough to deliver quality 5G services across India.
Vi’s plans to seek E-band airwaves would boost the quality of its future 5G offerings without the telco having to set aside any cash for fibre-related capex spends for the next 5-to-10 years, said analysts. They added that E-band allotments would cut Vi’s overall 5G capex needs without compromising on 5G customer experience, which could hasten its long pending Rs 10,000-20,000 crore external fundraise.
“E-band allocation should help ease Vi’s requirement of fibre and push fibre capex by many years,”
said in a note. It added that Vi’s 5G capex is part of its planned capex budget and ongoing fundraise negotiations.
Last month, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) announced plans to provisionally allot E-band airwaves exclusively to telcos via the administrative route in circles where they hold 5G spectrum for meeting the latter’s backhaul needs. With the 5G auctions over, Vi said on Thursday it would shortly seek E-band airwaves from DoT for its backhaul needs.
BofA Securities and
said E-band airwaves would be useful for Vi as it allows transmission of large bandwidth that helps in providing an end-to-end 5G experience, given limited fiberisation levels in India.
Ahead of the 5G auction, telcos were pushing DoT for direct allocation of E-band as it’s ideal for mobile broadband backhaul networks, especially as they upgrade to 5G.
Backhaul has to do with connecting the core of a mobile network to nodes and then onto towers, to transmit data, elements that are critical for an effective 5G mobile broadband operation. So in places where a telco can’t lay fibre – which requires manpower for laying and maintaining, national and local level clearances and loads of investment – E band spectrum can be used as a substitute, which is also more cost-efficient than fibre.