COAI Might Push to Lower Reserve Price of 700 MHz Spectrum

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The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) might soon ask the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on behalf of the telcos to push the sector regulator for bringing down the reserve price of the frequencies in the 700 MHz spectrum band.

According to an ET Telecom report, all the private operators are likely to write to the telecom department for asking the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to lower the reserve price of the 700 MHz band. The telcos are expected to route the letter to the sector regulator via COAI.

For the unaware, COAI is a non-governmental body that represents Indian telecom operators, including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea (Vi).

Industry Wants 700 MHz Spectrum Price to be Same as Other Sub-GHz Band

The telcos want the TRAI to lower the reserve price of the frequencies in the coveted 700 MHz spectrum band and make it nearly the same as the reserve price of 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands.

The operators believe that all the sub-GHZ bands, including the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, and 900 MHz bands, behave the same way in nature; thus, their reserve price should also be nearly the same. Further, the telcos want the regulator to include the 600 MHz band in the spectrum auction.

The 700 MHz band spectrum has been left unsold in the previous auctions because of its high reserve price. The regulator had cut the reserve price of the 700 MHz band for the auction held on March 1 and March 2. Even then, the operators ignored the band owing to its high-reserve price.

Through the letter, the operators want to convey to the TRAI that if the reserve price of the 700 MHz band is not reduced, then it will go unsold again in future auctions. The 700 MHz band is considered important by the telcos for rolling out 5G services. But the current reserve price of the band makes no sense.

Telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel have been very vocal about the same. Both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel will want to stock up the frequencies in the 700 MHz band for their future operations if the reserve prices are brought down.

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