The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recently released its recommendations for the base pricing of the 5G airwaves. In the new development of events, the said recommendations have now been accepted by the highest decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications on Friday. The decision to auction the spectrum for a period of 20 years has also been made as informed by an official. However, this move comes as bad news to the telecom operators who have been seeking a reduction in the base prices ever since the recommendations were released.
The Current Scenario
According to a report from ET Telecom, the decision was made by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) which is an inter-ministerial panel with the telecom secretary as its chairman. The commission also made the decision not to allot spectrum directly to corporate entities for private 5G networks as suggested by TRAI. Instead, these entities will now partner up with the telecom companies, accepting a key demand for the operators.
Telcos have been against the proposal put forward by TRAI stating that it would kill the business case for the 5G spectrum. In addition to this, DCC has also made the decision to keep the millimetre wave band of 27.5 GHz to 28.5 GHz band out of the 5G spectrum auction. These bandwidths have been requested by the satellite companies for broadband-from-space services. The industry regulator had suggested that the 27.5-28.5 GHz range be used for both 5G mobile and satellite communications on “a co-existence basis” to ensure efficient use of such bandwidth.
Moreover, it has also been decided that some 5G bandwidth will also be reserved for the state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. The recommendations from DCC which are at par with the recommendations from DoT’s standing committee now only need approval from the cabinet.
Earlier this month, TRAI recommended a base price of Rs 317 crore a unit for airwaves in the premium 3.3-3.67 GHz band which is about 36% less than its previous recommendations back in 2018. The price for the 700 MHz band has also been reduced by 70% bringing it down to Rs 3,297 crore. The government plans to auction more than 100,000 MHz of airwaves valued at about Rs 5 lakh crore in June and expects to roll out 5G networks in August.