Regulatory Agency 5G Recommendations in 7-10 Days; Work in the final phase: TRAI secretary


TRAI’s views on spectrum prices and other nuances are crucial as they will set the pace for the auctions

TRAI’s views on spectrum prices and other nuances are crucial as they will set the pace for the auctions

Telecoms regulator TRAI’s much-anticipated recommendations on 5G spectrum pricing and other modalities will be released in the next 7 to 10 days, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Indian Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRAI) Secretary V. Raghunandan told PTI that the frequency reference given to the regulator covered multiple bands and therefore included detailed and exhaustive considerations.

“We are in the final stages and will issue the recommendations shortly in 7-10 days,” Mr Raghunandan said.

TRAI’s views on spectrum pricing and other nuances are critical as they will set the pace for the auctions and subsequent deployment of fifth-generation services that will usher in ultra-high speed and create new services and business models.

The telecoms industry expected the regulator’s recommendations by the end of March.

The telecoms regulator published a detailed consultation paper in late November last year to discuss the modalities for auctioning spectrum in multiple bands, including pricing, quantity and other terms, in a flimsy manner – laying the groundwork for upcoming 5G auctions.

Trai’s comprehensive consultation paper is 207 pages long and raises 74 questions for industry-wide discussion covering key issues such as 5G spectrum valuation and floor price, spectrum quantity, block size, eligibility conditions for participation in the auction, roll-out obligations, spectrum caps and surrender of the spectrum.

In addition to bands such as 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, standards for new frequencies such as 526–698 MHz and the millimeter band of 24.25–28.5 GHz are also being worked out and 3300– 3670MHz.

The last round of spectrum auctions, held in March 2021, had won bids in excess of ₹77,800 crore for 855.6MHz spectrum. However, almost 63% of the total spectrum remained unsold.

As the country prepares for the mega-auction, industry players have aggressively promoted a cut in spectrum prices. Randeep Sekhon, chief technology officer (CTO) of telecom operator Bharti Airtel, recently made a strong call for “affordable” prices for 5G radio waves, saying that pricing “is going to play a very important role”.

“Of course, if operators are made to buy very expensive spectrum, their cash flows will be limited, they will have to pay. But if it’s very reasonable, then there’s a good chance the operator will throw in the same money for a faster increase in occupancy. ‘ Mr. Sekhon said last week.

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