The government is confident of resolving issues related to high spectrum pricing with the industry, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Thursday, adding that everything was “more or less” on track for auction of spectrum, including 5G airwaves, by June 2022.
The commercial rollout of 5G services could be expected from August-September 2022 onwards, the Minister added.
“The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India [TRAI], in its recommendations, has suggested some changes in prices. The next step is approval of the Digital Communications Commission [DCC] — they will take a call in the next 5-6 days. As per process, a back reference goes to TRAI. In parallel, we have worked out a notice inviting tender,” Mr. Vaishnaw said.
He said the main issue was the industry’s demand for a further reduction in spectrum prices, which would be “deliberated in a logical and systematic manner.”
The Minister said that world over it had been accepted that telecom services were a necessity and a tool for development and the issue of pricing would be looked at with this thinking.
Replying to a query, Mr. Vaishnaw said, “I am confident that this [pricing] issue will be solved... today there is excitement and some stability in the industry after the telecom reforms were announced in September last year. There is a clarity that we need to move forward.”
In its recommendations, TRAI has suggested cutting prices of airwaves across various bands, including 5G spectrum, by 35-40% from its earlier proposed base price. However, the Cellular Operators Association of India, whose members include the three private telcos — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, has expressed disappointment, given the industry’s demand for a 90% reduction in the prices.
In all, more than 1,00,000 MHz of airwaves have been recommended to be put up for auction. The total spectrum on offer at reserve price is valued at around ₹5 lakh crore for 20 years.