The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is all set to submit its long-awaited recommendations around the working of the 5G spectrum auction and its pricing in about 10 days’ time as informed by a prominent TRAI official. The government has asked the telecom regulator to submit the recommendations by March 31 so that the auction process can be commenced in May or June 2022. This would allow the government to roll out the initial services based on the next-gen technology by August 15 which is India’s Independence Day.
The Current Situation
According to a report from ET Telecom, TRAI secretary V Raghunandan in a statement said that the 5G recommendations are expected to be out in a week or 10 days since the initiative is voluminous including multiple bands. He further informed that the regulatory body is almost ready with its recommendations and teams across three divisions are working on it to make it comprehensive and error-free.
Department of Telecommunications, back in September 2021, had asked the telecom watchdog to share its recommendations on the applicable reserve price, band plan, block size, the quantum of spectrum to be auctioned, and associated conditions for the auction of spectrum in the 526-698 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3670 MHz, and 24.25-28.5 GHz bands for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) or 5G.
The current price of the 5G spectrum in the 3300 MHz to 3600 MHz bands priced at Rs 492 per MHz has been called extortionate by the telecom industry based on the recommendation by TRAI. The industry had called for a price cut by as much as 95% and the government has supported the call by stating that it wouldn’t think about making the price reasonable so that the services are available for users across the country.
This is crucial as in March 2021, the popular 700 MHz bands weren’t sold for the second consecutive year as the telecom giants thought that the base price was too high even after it was slacked by 43% from Rs 11,485 crore per megahertz in the 2016 auction down to Rs 6,568 crore per unit. Moreover, TRAI is also taking necessary steps towards generating more availability of spectrum in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz spectrum band for the upcoming auction as recommended by DoT.