India’s government took the first step in preparing for the country’s next spectrum auction, with the Department of Telecommunications asking the regulator to determine the allocation of 4G and 5G airwaves and set reserve prices across up to nine bands, The Economic Times (ET) reported.

ET noted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) must open a consultation for stakeholders before making recommendations, with the entire process taking four to five months.

The newspaper reported Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw previously indicated February 2022 as a potential timeline for the sale.

With the country’s three major operators all trialling 5G networks in a few cities, most service providers are calling for the government to release the necessary spectrum, particularly in mmWave bands.

The coveted 700MHz band, sometimes referred to as 5G’s golden range, was not sold during an auction in March which netted INR778 billion ($10.6 billion).

Operators received a major boost this month when the government passed a wide range of structural reforms aimed at helping the sector reduce high debt levels.

The relief package gives operators a four-year moratorium on adjusted gross revenue and spectrum taxes, which should put most in better financial shape to participate in the auction.