In separate written submissions to the telecom regulator’s consultation paper on spectrum auction, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular said that there’s no need now for holding spectrum auctions or even its consultation process in the current scenario where the industry is seeing declining profits and revenue due to intense competition.
Vodafone, on the other hand, said that timing of auctions should take into account the financial situation of the industry and the ongoing consolidation.
According to a PTI report, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio urged the regulator to bring long-term visibility for telcos so that they can plan better for auctions, adding that the telecom department should provide a forward-looking timeframe for availability of spectrum for the next 10 years across multiple bands. The 4G entrant, however, said that the auction schedule may be drawn up at the discretion of the regulator and the government, and has also suggested that reserve price should be reduced by 50 percent across all spectrum bands.
Jio has again asked the authority to get rid of the 50 percent in-band spectrum cap, saying that spectrum, which is typically auctioned, is now technology neutral.
The Sunil Mittal-led telco, in its submission, said that the best time for holding the sale of airwaves would be the end of 2018-19, adding that the consultation process on auction and pricing of spectrum should be initiated between September to December 2018. “We believe, if the auction is conducted in the near future, then it would not result in the realisation of the full value of proposed spectrum put to auction,” Airtel was quoted as saying by the newswire service.
The Aditya Birla Group telco, Idea, termed the ongoing spectrum consultation process “inappropriate”, adding that there is no business case for the acquisition of any more spectrum. It further said that telcos are finding it difficult to fund even existing spectrum payments amid the current industry scenario of “below-cost pricing” and “hyper-competition”.
Idea said that the business case made out earlier for the spectrum won in previous auctions has already failed.
Airtel has also urged the regulator for reduction of SUC charge to a uniform 1 percent of revenue across all the spectrum bands, saying that the SUC has added substantial financial burden on the industry.
The top telco asked the regulator to bring down the reserve price for the 700 MHz band to the level of 800 MHz bands.