Business

No plan to cut 5G price: Centre

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Industry has been seeking revision of ‘exorbitant’ base price

Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday informed Parliament that the government does not plan to reduce the reserve price for 5G spectrum even as the telecom industry has been demanding revision of ‘exorbitant’ and ‘unaffordable’ prices.

Replying to a separate query, the Minister, however, admitted the ability of telecom operators to pay for spectrum may be constrained given that their balance sheets are already overstretched, even as he pointed out the telcos’ decision to raise tariffs for voice and data, and the Centre’s recent decision to provide a two-year moratorium on spectrum payment dues.

Asked if the government was aware of the industry’s concerns about the high 5G spectrum base price, the Minister replied in the affirmative, stating that various industry associations, including Assocham, CII and BIF had written to the government about high spectrum auction prices.

On the question “whether the government is planning to reduce the base-price for 5G spectrum,” Mr Prasad said, “No, sir.”

Further, on the telecom industry’s representation that the quantum of 5G spectrum that has been allocated for the upcoming auction was not enough for a country of India’s size and density, Mr. Prasad said, “In DoT’s view, the present available spectrum is enough to start the 5G services.”

Alive to problems

In October this year, the Minister had announced that the government was alive to the industry’s problems, hinting that spectrum prices may be reviewed, while adding that the auctions, including for 5G airwaves, will be held in the current financial year.

In July, the Digital Communications Commission had asked TRAI to reconsider its recommendations on spectrum auctions to ensure competition and greater participation in auctions. However, TRAI had stuck to its recommendation, including on the base price of spectrum to be put on sale.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 1:02:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/no-plan-to-cut-5g-price-centre/article30099526.ece

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