5G spectrum auctions are on the horizon as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has already kick-started the process. Now, in new developments, India’s leading telecom operator Reliance Jio has informed TRAI about the gaining popularity of auction of spectrum for broadband-from-space services as Brazil has already completed the process and seemingly Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Thailand are all set to follow the suit. Jio has rather urged TRAI to allocate spectrum for broadband-from-space services only via auctions following the global trend and “discard all demands” of global players who are looking for allocation of airwaves via the administrative process.
Need for Auction of Spectrum
According to a report from ET Telecom, the telecom has called the administrative process of allocation “a relic of the competition-free past” and has said it is totally contradictory to the competitive situations in the telecom sector pertaining now. Jio has made its counter-submission to further strengthen the ongoing battle with global satellite players such as OneWeb, Starlink, Kuiper and Tata-Telesat over the process of allocating spectrum to operate satellite gateways in India.
For those unaware, satellite gateways are an important infrastructure resource that will allow the offering of broadband-from-space services in the country. Jio wrote in its counter submission to TRAI that administrative allocation of spectrum is not the only way of allocating as being pushed by multiple stakeholders and auctions have become more of a global trend when it comes to allocation of spectrum for satellite services. The submission from Jio has also been backed by telecom consultants, Dua Consulting.
Jio had also made a point in its original submission to TRAI stating that spectrum should be assigned only via auctions as it would be in line with a verdict made by the Supreme Court in 2021 which suggests that supports the move of allocation of airwaves through transparent auctions alone. Jio also cited the examples of countries like Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Thailand and Brazil which have opted for auctions as a mode of allocating spectrum. The telco stated that auctions of the spectrum are feasible and is also gaining popularity globally.
Global Satellite Providers which also includes Jio’s rival telecom company Airtel, on the other hand, have stated in their submissions to TRAI that the auctions would create a more dispersed allocation of airwaves and the potential of satellite broadband services in India might not be achieved.