“The telecommunications companies via COAI have said that unless radio wave prices do not fall by 60-70%, then 5G auctions will not succeed. The three telecommunications companies will participate better if prices are lowered,” said a senior employee of one of the private telecommunications companies. The letter was sent a week ago.
The COAI did not respond to ET’s inquiries at the time of publication of this story.
The government is expected to auction 5G channels in April-May 2022, but prices remain a contentious point.
Lowering the base price on the 5G spectrum is critical to the success of the auctions, industry executives and experts said.
Vi’s CEO, Ravinder Takkar, warned in a recent analyst call that if the base rates for 5G spectrum are not lowered, there will once again be no receivers for these radio waves.
The current base price of 492 crore Rs for a device with 5G spectrum in the 3.3-3.6 GHz band has been considered too expensive by all three private players. At a suggested retail price, it is the most expensive in the world, with prices in countries such as Italy, USA, Korea and the UK much lower.
Meanwhile, the three rivals are in the process of testing 5G utility cases on government-allocated spectrum. Last week, Airtel became the first telecommunications company to test 5G technology in the 700Mhz band, while We demonstrated utility cases of 5G trials.
Reliance Jio had previously said it is ready to be a global 5G provider and stressed how 5G will impact agriculture, education, healthcare, and the telecommunications company is working to bring the technology into these areas. It performs 5G experiments on a large scale using its own 5G stack and tests various use cases. To be sure, all the tapes currently used for 4G can be used to offer 5G services in the future. But at the moment, India has earmarked the 3300-3600 MHz band for next generation services.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sent a referral to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to seek new pricing on the 3300-3600 MHz band, as well as for newer bands that could be used for 5G in the future. The Trai has since asked DoT to draw up a roadmap of available bands and their use. After receiving a response, Trai will soon be releasing a consultation paper on the upcoming auction, which will cover which bands, their pricing as well as the amount of radio waves to be sold in the next sale.