Spectrum auction: TRAI sticks to position

‘Concerns over high 5G prices voiced’

July 08, 2019 10:56 pm | Updated 11:07 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Representational image. File

Representational image. File

In a setback to the operators, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has stuck to its earlier recommendation on the forthcoming spectrum auction, including on base price and valuation of spectrum to be put on sale.

Last month, the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) — the highest decision making body in the DoT — had asked the sectoral regulator to reconsider its recommendations to ensure competition and greater participation in auctions.

‘High prices’

The back and forth comes amid industry voicing concerns over high spectrum prices, including that of airwaves used to offer 5G services. Some players have also hinted that they may sit out of auctions given the high pricing.

The DCC had asked TRAI to revisit the recommendations keeping in view the larger objective of Digital India and broadband for all.

The DoT had, in its communique to the TRAI, cited concerns over the financial health of the sector, its revenue growth and the reduction in number of players to three from about the eight previously.

In its detailed response to the clarifications sought by the DoT, the TRAI said it had considered all the relevant factors, including the methodology, assumptions, developments between the spectrum auction in 2016 and its suggestions of August 1, 2018, and the rationale for spectrum valuation and reserve price while giving its recommendations.

“In view of the above, the authority reiterates the spectrum valuation and reserve prices as contained in its recommendations dated August 1, 2018,” the TRAI said.

The regulator has, however, agreed with DoT on increasing the lock-in period for spectrum in 3300-3600 MHz band — used for 5G services.

“The Authority recommends that no roll-out obligations should be mandated for spectrum in 3300-3600 MHz band. However, to avoid any misuse of not mandating any roll-out obligations, the lock-in period for spectrum in this band for becoming eligible for spectrum trading should be five years instead of two years.”

The government had earlier said it is targeting holding spectrum auctions in the current financial year.

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