After the results, the new government at the centre has taken the reins of the country, and the cabinet is all set up. With these things in place now, the government might be looking at auctioning the 4G and 5G Spectrum as soon as in September or October, an ET Telecom report said. Also, the auction in the upcoming month for the 4G and 5G Spectrum might happen at the prices suggested by the industry regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). A senior government official has said that the telecom operators are “ready” for the next round of spectrum auction. However, there is also the fact to consider that some telcos have already expressed concern that the prices recommended for the Spectrum by Trai are too high. According to some, they might be high enough not to attract any bids from some telcos.
5G Spectrum Sale to be the Biggest One of its Kind in India
A government official said, “The committee (looking into the regulator’s recommendations) has agreed that all available spectrum will have to be put up for auction, which we will take up to the DCC (Digital Communications Commission) on June 13.” He further added, “An inter-ministerial committee is going ahead with the selection of the auctioneer... We will move fast – September-October is by when the auctions can happen.”
It is also crucial to note that this is going to India’s largest spectrum auction till date as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will be putting 8,293.95 MHz of airwaves on sale with an estimated total base price of Rs 5.77 lakh crore. In comparison to the last spectrum auction held in 2016, this spectrum sale is three and a half times bigger. The last spectrum sale in India had 2,354 MHz of Spectrum with a total base price of Rs 5.63 lakh crore.
Telcos Say Spectrum Prices Recommended by Trai are Too High
Even in the 2016 spectrum auction, due to exorbitantly high prices of some spectrum, there were bands which failed to attract any bids from the telecom operators. However, even then, the government had managed to raise Rs 66,000 crore in the previous auction. In the upcoming spectrum sale, the government will be keeping seven 4G bands in addition to the 5G Spectrum on the roster for sale. The auction will witness participation from operators including Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.
There has been a slight reluctance from the telcos’ side as they have raised views on how the prices set by Trai are too high for the Spectrum. They have also asked the government to set prices similar to countries like South Korea on a per MHz basis for 5G Spectrum. The telcos have also said that the Indian pricing of the 5G Spectrum is seven times higher. In the Indian telecom turf, the operators already have weak balance sheets after the intense competition from the new telco Reliance Jio in 2016. The data tariff war has eroded revenue and brought consolidation in the sector.