Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea (Vi), the three private telecom operators in India, are not expected to bid heavily on the upcoming 5G spectrum auction on July 26, 2022. Industry sources told Reuters that Indian private telcos are worried about losing 40% of the potential revenues because the enterprises can get spectrum directly from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for captive private networks.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the representative body of the Indian private telcos, had tried to stop the government from doing so, but things didn’t work out. Now telcos are afraid to invest heavily in the spectrum auction because they fear a loss of revenue. Enterprises, however, would be happy with the outcome.
SP Kochhar, Director General, COAI, said that the telcos were hoping the enterprise demand for 5G services would help them get a return on billions of dollars they will invest into rolling out next-generation network services.
Business Cases for the Telcos Dim Around 5G if Enterprises Can Get Spectrum Directly
It is worth noting that in many parts of the world, enterprises are allowed to get the spectrum directly from the government for captive private networks. However, in India, the telcos were majorly counting on the enterprise services which involved private 5G networks to earn them revenues from the 5G rollout.
The spectrum auction is still almost a month away. According to ICICI Securities, Jio and Airtel are expected to bid for spectrum worth Rs 38,000 crore each during the upcoming auction. Vodafone Idea (Vi) doesn’t have the kind of cash resources that Jio and Airtel do and hence might participate in a very minimal manner. The telcos are definitely not happy with the government’s decision around giving spectrum directly to the enterprises. Broadband India Forum (BIF) has, however, supported the government decision saying that telcos will still have a major role to play and earn revenues from the enterprises.