Trai had in August 2018 recommended auction of about 8,644 MHz of spectrum across bands at an estimated total base price of Rs 4.9 lakh crore, but the industry, which is reeling under high debt, had argued that the proposed prices are unaffordable and exorbitant.
The department of telecommunications (DoT) is soon expected to take a call regarding the reserve price for the upcoming spectrum auction, which is likely to occur by the end of this year or early next year. An internal committee of DoT is examining the recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which has largely stuck to its earlier proposals on the reserve price, including for the 5G band. In June, amid an industry disquiet over pricing of spectrum, the digital communications commission (DCC) had decided to ask Trai to reconsider its spectrum recommendations to ensure competition and greater participation of larger set of players in auctions slated for 2019.
Asked if the prices proposed by Trai are final, telecom secretary Anshu Prakash said: “Trai makes a recommendation, it is the government which takes a call. We have not yet taken a call.” But he did not say if the prices can be revised downwards.
The secretary also said a decision regarding participation of Huawei in 5G trials has not been taken yet. “There should be some 5G display at the India Mobile Congress next month,” Prakash said. He did not share the name of the companies which have got approval for the trials.
Trai had in August 2018 recommended auction of about 8,644 MHz of spectrum across bands at an estimated total base price of Rs 4.9 lakh crore, but the industry, which is reeling under high debt, had argued that the proposed prices are unaffordable and exorbitant. For instance, for the 5G band in the 3300-3600 MHz where prices had been given for the first time at Rs 492 crore per MHz, for a pan-India minimum block of 20 MHz, operators would have to shell out Rs 9,840 crore, which is seen as steep. Similarly, though Trai had reduced the reserve price by 43% at Rs 6,568 crore per MHz for the premium 4G spectrum, still for a pan-India 5 MHz block, operators would have to pay Rs 32,840 crore.
The DCC, which met on Thursday, took several decisions, including connecting the uncovered villages with telecom infrastructure. It also approved a Rs 2,536-crore proposal to provide 4G mobile connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam. Apart from that, it was decided that in order to promote telecom connectivity inside buildings, DoT will write to the urban development ministry to formulate rules regarding in-building telecom access.