India operators push for affordable 4G spectrum - Mobile World Live

India operators push for affordable 4G spectrum

29 NOV 2018

Executives from five mobile operators called on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to reduce the price of 4G frequencies and release a long-term spectrum roadmap so the companies can plan for future auctions, The Economic Times (ET) reported.

Representatives from Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and state-run BSNL and MTNL met with TRAI chairman RS Sharma to push for a reduction in the reserve price for the 900MHz, 800MHz and 1800MHz bands.

A source told ET Sharma agreed to consult with the operators in 2019 on a variety of spectrum issues and look at how reserve prices are determined, but he said the discussions would not affect the pricing it already set for the next 4G and 5G spectrum sales.

TRAI in August recommended releasing more than 8,500MHz of spectrum across nine bands for the next auction and reduced the reserve prices of most to attract interest. It is yet to set a date for the sale.

The executives also called for action on high fees, such as spectrum usage charges, with nearly a third of operators’ revenue going to the government in the form of taxes.

P Balaji, chief regulatory and corporate affairs officer at Vodafone Idea, told ET: “The telecom regulator conducted a transparent discussion on the opportunities and challenges for the telecoms sector, and we look forward to actively working and supporting the government and the regulator’s digital agenda.”

Earlier this month, the Department of Telecommunications said the country’s next 4G auction would likely raise significantly less than previous sales of similar spectrum due to market consolidation and operators’ high debt levels, which reduce their access to credit.

A 4G auction in 2016 generated $9.8 billion, but 60 per cent of the 2,300MHz of spectrum made available was left unsold.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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