The existing base price for the fifth-generation or 5G airwaves was high, and the industry was looking at the sale process to be designed in a way that every service provider would get equal quantum of radio waves, a top executive of India’s largest telco Monday said.
“The current 5G spectrum pricing is exorbitant,” Vodafone Idea chief executive Balesh Sharma said, and added that the telco has selected Swedish Ericsson and Chinese Huawei to partner for 5G-led field trials.
India’s top telecom carrier has, however, dropped Finnish Nokia for 5G pilot.
Earlier, incumbent operators including Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have sought clarity from the government on partnerng with China-based gear maker Huawei, following the US blacklist, and security concerns in other markets.
“We seek spectrum auction at reasonable price so that 5G airwaves will be equally available to all operators,” Sharma said.
The regulator, however, stands by the reserve price it recommended Rs 492 crore per unit last year to the government and maintained that the pricing was based on consultative process with stakeholders.
India is set to put airwaves on sale this calendar year including 5G spectrum with the telecom watchdog recommending frequencies in the 3300-3600Mhz range.
“We are at the cusp of great opportunities yet there is turbulence, and await opportunities,” the top executive added.
The government is aiming to make 5G commercially available by 2020, with incumbents excluding Jio, want auctions to be dragged owing to existing financial stress and asking base price to be revisited.
Sharma who has been elected as the chairman of the Delhi-based lobby group Cellular Operators Association of India, also said that there was a need to rationalize taxes and levies.
“We are hearing from Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea that the 5G spectrum pricing is prohibitive in the current form,” COAI director general Rajan S Mathews said, adding that the industry was hopeful to get spectrum in the 26-28Ghz range which is globally recognized.
Sharma added that the recently-unveiled policy is forward-looking and the government has set up harmonization and spectrum sharing rules that has led the situation from spectrum scarce to spectrum surplus now.
“India has the largest deployment of Massive Mimo technology, after China and Korea,” the executive added.
In making $5 trillion strong Indian economies by 2025, the telecom sector would be contributing as much as $1trillion, according to him.
Sharma further added that India’s growth is aligned with the success of telecom sector.
“5G is a key priority area of the government and decisions on “certain companies” have to be taken and will come up how we are going ahead,” additional secretary, Department of Telecom (DoT) Anshu Prakash said.
“Reliability and security are the critical areas of 5G, and fiberization is much needed for achieving the goal,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) secretary Sunil K Gupta said.―Gadgets Now