India's Department of Telecom (DoT) has instructed operators including incumbent Bharti Airtel to vacate spectrum in the 3,300-MHz to 3,400-MHz range by the end of September so it can be included in a new auction.
The operator has written to all existing licensees of spectrum in the band to vacate it within six months, LiveMint reported.
The 3.4-GHz band is expected to be one of the first frequencies to be used for 5G rollouts globally.
Other licensees of the band include Reliance Communications - which is selling its wireless assets to Reliance Jio Infocomm, Tata Communications – whose parent company is reportedly looking to exit the telecoms business, and wireless ISP Dishnet Wireless.
The DoT plans to hold a major auction for spectrum in the 700-MHz, 800-MHz, 900-MHz, 1800-MHz, 2100-MHz, 2300-MHz, 2500-MHz, 3300-MHz, and 3400-MHz to 3500-MHz bands during the next auction.
The ministry appears to be pressing ahead with the auction despite fears over the perilous financial state of the mobile industry, and against the wishes of operators who had asked for more time to pay off existing spectrum fees and other debts.