COAI opposes delicensing of spectrum in E and V bands

By: |
September 29, 2020 8:00 AM

Going forward, the spectrum in the bands can be utilised for 5G services, so allocation methodology of the bands should be same as applicable to other 5G spectrum bands.

The E and V bands are considered optimum for providing mobile broadband backhaul while its utility for 5G services is also evolving.Since Vodafone Idea is facing network quality issues, it faces a bigger risk from Jio’s plans and could see a high churn.

Industry body COAI has reiterated its opposition to delicensing of spectrum in E and V bands, stating that doing so will lead to loss of revenue to government as these bands have a very high commercial value proposition.

In a letter to communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, COAI has said spectrum in E and V bands has manifold utilities, whereby it can act both as a high capacity access spectrum for voice and data services as well as backhaul link spectrum. Going forward, the spectrum in the bands can be utilised for 5G services, so allocation methodology of the bands should be same as applicable to other 5G spectrum bands.

“Market determined price through open auction will ensure huge revenue to the government which has to be forgone in case of light-touch regulation or delicensing,” COAI director general SP Kochhar said in the letter. It further said telecom operators have spent thousands of crores in acquiring spectrum for providing telecom services and it will be unjust if spectrum for similar or superior services is offered on delicensed basis to operators, wherein no payment would be involved.

The E and V bands are considered optimum for providing mobile broadband backhaul while its utility for 5G services is also evolving. So far, the government has not taken a call around allocation methodology of spectrum in these bands. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had earlier proposed a light-touch regulation for the bands and suggested a fix fee mechanism for allocation of the spectrum.

There was another proposal to delicense spectrum in E and V bands, but telecom operators are opposing both the proposals. The COAI had earlier also written to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) seeking assignment of such airwaves for backhaul to mobile service providers already having access spectrum and in case, telcos want to use it for mobile services, it should be auctioned.

COAI said ideally, these bands should be utilised for mobile broadband backhaul. “However, since the spectrum in these bands have high commercial value due to potential usage as “access spectrum” as well, with limited spectrum availability and there are more than one competitors who are ready to bid for these bands, any method of allocation other than transparent auction is legally untenable and amounts to contempt of Supreme Court,” COAI added.

The letter further said AG has also opined that auction is the only option for allocation of spectrum in areas where there are competitors who are prepared to bid for the limited spectrum which is available, so that the government would be able to earn revenue from competitive bidding.

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