The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will reportedly approach the telecom regulator Trai to reduce the minimum prices set for the auction of 5G airwaves in the country. A person aware of the matter told Livemint that the DoT would soon ask Trai to reconsider the prices of 5G airwaves and the 700 MHz band spectrum that went unsold in the last two spectrum auctions. In the past, we have seen telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea calling the reserve prices of 5G airwaves as ‘unaffordable.’ For rolling out full-fledged 5G services in India, telcos are looking to purchase spectrum in 3,300-3,600 MHz bands. The reserve price has been set at Rs 492 crore per MHz by Trai.
DoT to Ask Trai for Reconsidering Reserve Prices of 5G Airwaves
The high reserve prices set by Trai for 5G airwaves will likely hamper the rollout of the next-generation services in India. While telcos have been urging to reconsidering the prices, the DoT seems to be stepping into the matter, finally. Besides the 5G airwaves, the DoT is also rumoured to ask Trai to lower the price of the spectrum in the 700 MHz band that went unsold in the recent auction.
The Spectrum Auction 2021 concluded recently and there were no takers for the 700 MHz band, which was expected due to the high reserve price. Right after the auction, the DoT made a public statement regarding no bidders for the 700 MHz, saying that it will proceed with legal action against Trai on the pricing front. To recall, the 700 MHz band did not attract any buyers even in the 2016 Spectrum Auction.
The Mint report also added that Trai’s decision would be the final one on the reserve pricing aspect. The DoT is considering 5G seriously and it even appointed three working groups that will review the ideal spectrum bands for rolling out 5G services in the country.
The reserve prices set by Trai for 5G airwaves is nearly 4-6 times higher than that of the prices in other countries. The Trai continues to maintain silence in this regard. If Trai goes ahead with the current prices, Airtel and Vodafone Idea may not participate in the 5G spectrum auction.