India’s private telecom operators who are looking forward to the 5G spectrum auction are in for a big disappointment. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is supporting the recommendations from TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) for the spectrum auction. This means that the DoT has been backing TRAI recommended spectrum price for twenty years. While TRAI cut the price of the airwaves, the industry felt like it wasn’t enough.
Airtel, in the past, has expressed that it won’t go heavy on the auction if the 5G airwaves aren’t priced right. The same can be expected from Jio and Vi as well. It will all come down to the Cabinet to make the final decisions around the spectrum auction.
But there’s also something that the telcos might be happy to hear.
DoT Not in Support of Administrative Allocation of Airwaves
According to a PTI report, the DoT is not in support of letting enterprises setup up captive private networks with spectrum administratively allocated to them. This would be a relief for the telcos to hear.
The telcos and the tech companies have been fighting over the issue of the 5G spectrum for private networks. Again, the Cabinet will be making the final call. But the recommendations from the DoT and its thought process can influence the final decisions taken by the DoT.
In its recommendations, TRAI had said that if the telcos wanted the airwaves for 30 years, they would have to pay 1.5 times the price of the airwaves set for 20 years. While it is a sort of a discount for the telcos, it would involve a huge outflow of cash as the spectrum is not too cheap in the country.
Right now, more than the price, the telcos would be worried about the Cabinet’s call on private networks powered by 5G. Telcos would lose a lot of revenues that will come in from enterprise services if the government decides that enterprises should be given spectrum in an administrative manner for private networks.