The government is confident of resolving issues related to high spectrum prices with the industry, Telecoms Minister Ashwini Viashnaw said on Thursday, adding that by June 2022 everything is “more or less” on track for spectrum auctioning, including 5G -airwaves.
The commercial rollout of 5G services can be expected from August to September 2022, the minister added.
“The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India [TRAI]has proposed some price changes in its recommendations. The next step is approval from the Digital Communications Commission [DCC] — They will answer a call in the next 5-6 days. According to the process, a back reference goes to TRAI. In parallel, we prepared a tender,” said Mr. Vaishnaw.
He said the main problem is the industry’s call for a further reduction in spectrum prices, which is being “considered in a logical and systematic manner”.
The minister said that it has been accepted worldwide that telecommunications services are a necessity and a tool for development and that the issue of pricing is being approached with this in mind.
In response to a question, Mr. Vaishnaw said, “I am confident that this [pricing] Problem being solved… Today there is excitement and some stability in the industry after telecom reform was announced last September. There is a clarity that we must move forward.”
In its recommendations, TRAI has proposed reducing the price of radio waves in various bands, including the 5G spectrum, by 35-40% from the base price previously proposed. However, the Cellular Operators Association of India, whose membership includes three private telecoms companies Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, has expressed disappointment at the industry’s call for a 90% price cut.
In total, more than 1,00,000 MHz ether was recommended for auction. The full range offered at the minimum price is estimated at around ₹5 lakh crore for 20 years.