Can the Indian government resolve 5G spectrum pricing concerns?

Can the Indian government resolve 5G spectrum pricing concerns?

Will the price of 5G spectrum be set at what operators feel is a reasonable rate before the imminent Indian 5G spectrum auctions? Telecommunications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said that the government is working on a plan to resolve the industry’s concerns around the issue.

According to a report in India’s Economic Times, the Digital Communications Commission (set up in the late 1980s with administrative and financial powers of the government of India to deal with various aspects of telecommunications), is to consider the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations in five to six days. It will then send its recommendations on pricing to the Cabinet.

However, the most recent suggestion from TRAI was for price cuts (compared to its last recommendation in 2018) of between 36% and 40%. This is way behind operator calls for a 90% cut in the reserve prices of 5G airwaves, which they suggest would be in line with global rates.

But there isn’t much time to decide on prices. The minister has confirmed that the next auction of spectrum is to be held in June in the hope that an initial launch of commercial services can take place on 15 August.

The Economic Times lists the spectrum on sale as coming from the 3.3-3.67GHz and the 700MHz bands, as well as the 600MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2500MHz bands. Millimetre wave bands in the 24.25GHz to 28.5GHz range will also be sold.

Or, at least, that is the hope. Pricing concerns have left spectrum unsold before and it may happen again if government misjudges the amount industry is willing to pay for the opportunity to roll out 5G.

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