GSMA expresses concerns over TRAI’s price recommendation for 700MHz spectrum

The global body of GSM operators GSMA has called for affordable spectrum pricing in the upcoming spectrum auction and expressed its concerns over telecom regulator TRAI’s recommendation to set a starting price of US$1.7 billion per MHz for pan-Indian 700MHz spectrum.


It said that the short-term gain, long-term pain approach to spectrum pricing should come to an end. As the digital economy becomes increasingly important to India’s future prosperity, the greater focus should be on the long-term benefits of connecting more people in India to affordable mobile broadband, rather than on short-term financial gain.

John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, said: “India has one of the lowest Average Revenues Per User (ARPU) across the world (US$2.45 at the end of 2015). Combined with so far limited revenue contribution from data services, competitive pressure on operators’ revenues and high capital expenditure to upgrade networks, this makes it more challenging for operators to recover from high spectrum prices. Spectrum’s greatest value does not come from high sales prices, but rather from its use to expand social and economic opportunity for all India’s citizens. In 2014 alone, the mobile industry contributed 6.1 per cent to India’s GDP.”

The group also argued that the more mobile operators have to pay for a spectrum licence, the less capital is available to roll out new mobile networks.

“High reserve prices and an unrealistic predetermination of spectrum value could also reduce the willingness of potential bidders to buy the spectrum. For example, in Australia, an unrealistically high reserve price resulted in a valuable portion of the 700MHz spectrum left unsold and unused. Unused or under-utilised spectrum benefits neither the economy nor society.”

The group has urged the Government and TRAI to keep in mind the objectives for releasing 700MHz spectrum – one of the most promising bands to expand the reach of mobile broadband services into rural areas – in the lead-up to auctioning this critical spectrum resource.

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16 Comments on "GSMA expresses concerns over TRAI’s price recommendation for 700MHz spectrum"


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February 3, 2016 10:08 am 10:08 AM

if GSMA body cannot afford it then either BSNL or any New telecom company will buy it. those cannot afford to buy new spectrum can give cheaper data to consumers from their existing spectrum because you have won existing spectrum at far cheaper price then upcoming 700mhz spectrum which someone else will be buying at much more expensive rates.
so don’t make drama….we can see those CEO,s among the richest people in the world while country remains among the poorest.

February 2, 2016 10:57 pm 10:57 PM

I think the price is right. Shame on you who say the price is too high.

If the price is low, it will be the same people who will cry of another scam. They will accuse the govt of giving away the spectrum at throwaway price.

Best would be this scenario: If the 700 Mhz band goes unauctioned, government should sell it to BSNL and MTNL. This way they will at least survive this 4G wave. The debts and balance sheets could be cleverly managed.

amit kumar
February 2, 2016 10:57 pm 10:57 PM

if any private telecom operator do not want to buy 700 MHz spectrum, government must gave it to bsnl for rural as well as urban coverage & take back 2500 MHz spectrum from bsnl.