Indian operators may be fined for 5G rollout delays

Indian operators may be fined for 5G rollout delays

While Indian operator Reliance Jio claims to have completed its national 5G rollout, and rival Bharti Airtel hopes to complete it by March, Vodafone Idea and new market entrant Adani Data Networks may be facing fines for not meeting the minimum 5G rollout obligations that have been set.

Apparently India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sent what are referred to as ‘show cause’ notices to the two companies preparatory to fining them if they cannot satisfactorily explain why their 5G rollouts have been delayed.

India’s Economic Times news service cites sources that suggest that Vodafone Idea may be faced with the equivalent of US$1.7 million in fines, and Adani Data Networks may have to pay somewhere between U$601,000 and US$722,000.

The minimum rollout obligations for 5G by the end of the first year call for operators to commercially launch services in Indian metro as well as non-metro cities. Neither Vodafone Idea nor Adani Data Networks seem to have actually launched 5G services, let alone reached any cities.

Adani Data Networks is an unusual case, however. Its proposal was based on using spectrum for 5G private network deployment for industry. Unfortunately, as we reported in May last year, the operator has been having problems deploying a 5G network in the 26GHz band, mainly due to lack of devices but also, possibly, due to lack of spectrum.

By contrast Vodafone Idea’s ongoing cashflow and debt issues seem to be the likeliest reason for its limited investment in 5G rollout.

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