The Wuhan originated Coronavirus has affected the world in more ways one can imagine. However, the industry that has arguably been most affected by the virus is the tech industry. After the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020, the Coronavirus is all set to delay the rollout of 5G in India.
According to analysts at ET Telecom, the 5G spectrum auction will be delayed, as the threat of this deadly virus rises. Back in 2019, the Department of Technology (DoT) gave clearance to the vendors of 5G gears to participate in the 5G trials in India. This included Huawei too. However, with the rising threat of the Coronavirus, the makers of telecom gears based in China are facing great hindrances in manufacturing 5G gears. As the Chinese telecom gear makers are leading the 5G deployment in the world, vendors like Huawei and ZTE are unable to deliver as expected.
The Indian government is planning to hold the 5G spectrum auction in the first quarter of 2021. It will reportedly auction both 4G and 5G airwaves in this event. On the concerned topic, the research head of SBICap securities, Rajiv Sharma had this to say, “If the Coronavirus menace continues for a few more months, the government may find it challenging to auction expensive 5G spectrum before January-February 2021 since a prolonged epidemic would hit 5G network deployments and devices availability in India too, further reducing the business case for local telcos to participate meaningfully in any early 5G airwaves sale this year,”.
Apart from Coronavirus, telcos like Airtel and Vodafone will most likely back out of the 5G spectrum auction due to high prices. The companies are worried about the adjusted gross revenue (AGR), that the DoT charges as usage and licensing fee. Gopal Vittal, the CEO of Airtel, said that the prices of 5G are beyond their reach.
With the threat of the Coronavirus looming, analysts are predicting that it will affect the 5G rollout not only in India but on a global level. However, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), that operates the private telcos of India, has given a ray of hope. They said that the 5G rollout in India will not be affected by Coronavirus as they have made deals with some gear makers that are not of Chinese origin. But according to the Swedish company, Ericsson, 5G connections will not be available in the country until 2022.