The government on Wednesday said it has no plans to reduce prices of 5G spectrum for the upcoming auction.
Industry bodies and telecom operators have been demanding a revision in the proposed base price for 5G spectrum auction, claiming that the rate was too high.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Lok Sabha that the base price for the next round of auction has been recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on August 1, 2018, and the regulator reaffirmed the same price on July 8, 2019 in response to reference sent by the Department of Telecom.
In response to member Dushyant Singh’s question that if the government was planning to reduce the base-price for 5G spectrum, Prasad said, “No, Sir”. The telecom minister while speaking at the India Mobile Congress 2019 last month had said that the spectrum auctions will be done this financial year and “undertaking some reforms in spectrum pricing as well.”
The industry bodies and telecom operators individually have also pointed out that the spectrum price recommended by the Trai for next round of auction is too high. The government has huge amount of unsold spectrum due to lack of their demand in earlier auctions.
“The value of unsold spectrum as on date as per valuation by Trai in its recommendations on Auction of Spectrum in 700 MHz, 800MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3400 MHz, 3400-3600MHz Bands dated August 1, 2018 is Rs 4.9 lakh crores,” Prasad said.
A telecom player interested in buying spectrum for 5G service in 3300-3400 Mhz and 3425-3600 Mhz band will need to shell out at least Rs 9,840 crore as per Trai’s proposal. The minister in response to Singh’s question on availability of spectrum for 5G services shared that 275 megahertz of radiowaves frequency between 3,300-3,400 Mhz and 3,425 to 3,600 Mhz band is available for 5G auction which is enough to launch 5G services in the country.
Industry body Broadband India Forum (BIF), however, has said that quantum of frequency proposed is insufficient to start the next generation mobile services, Prasad said. “BIF have, in their representation to the government, stated that the quantum of 5G spectrum that has been allocated for the upcoming 5G spectrum auction is not enough for a country of India’s size and density. In DoT’s view, the present available spectrum is enough to start the 5G services,” Prasad said.
According to ITU, a 5G application in general should be able to transmit data with 10 gigabit per second speed and in some cases 20 Gigabit per second. Industry experts have said the lower data speed case requires around 320 Mhz of spectrum, while higher data speed needs around 670 Mhz.
The DoT has set a target to roll out 5G in 2020. Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson in its global study published early this week said that 5G connections are likely to be available in India from 2022.―Financial Express