Another part of the Indian 5G spectrum auctions puzzle is nearly in place. The country’s Telecommunications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) recommendations on 5G spectrum will be available by March.
This apparently means that the actual spectrum action will happen as soon as possible after TRAI offers its recommendations. A number of other auction-related processes also need to be looked at, but 5G service rollout could take place this year.
As regular readers will know, TRAI has been compiling responses to a consultation paper in which it asked for the views of the disparate companies and other stakeholders involved in 5G rollout on how the auction should go ahead.
We already know that there have been a number of comments relating to spectrum availability. It’s clear that satellite services, government and mobile operators are not always in agreement about who should get what. More importantly, there have long been misgivings about spectrum pricing, which is generally seen as too high.
There will be a lot to take into account, but the plan seems to be that in March the regulator will give its recommendation to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). DoT will then clear the agreed plan with other authorities – one assumes this means higher levels of government – and then the auction can go ahead.
It’s unclear what provision has been made for any challenges – legal or otherwise – to the TRAI recommendations. We may have to wait until March to find out.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her recent budget speech underlined the potential growth and job opportunities associated with 5G. Clearly a lot is riding on getting next generation technology deployed in India.