One of the things that has become a culture in the Indian Telecom space is the highly-priced spectrum. The debt-laden telcos are offered spectrum at the highest possible price which increases their network rollout cost and yet they have to offer data at the lowest rates possible to the consumers. Bharti Airtel had already clearly expressed that if the spectrum bands aren’t fairly priced for the 5G spectrum auctions, it would avoid bidding much and just use 4G airwaves and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to offer 5G services in India. The telco has already shown how it can do that in Hyderabad.
Vodafone Idea in No Capacity to Purchase 5G Spectrum
Vodafone Idea is in no capacity to purchase 5G spectrum from the auctions if the base price of the airwaves is high. According to an ET Telecom report, the sector regulator might not change the base price of the 5G airwaves in the 3300-3600 MHz band. The airwaves in this mid-band is very important for the telcos to rollout 5G services but if they are too highly-priced, it would increase the network rollout costs for the telcos multiple folds.
However, a source related to the matter told the publication that the regulator might consider adding in airwaves in the premium mmWave bands (26 GHz) at a reasonable price to offer economic benefits to the telcos.
This is not a good thing for the Indian Telecom space. The sector regulator should definitely consider the situation of the operators. Apart from Reliance Jio, none of the operators is really in a good position. Even though Bharti Airtel showed net profits in its previous year’s results, the telco has a ton of debt on its shoulders and also has to incur costs for expanding its network.
Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel might completely avoid the highly-priced spectrum. Even the 700 MHz band needs to be priced lower than before.