COAI is disappointed by TRAI’s 5G spectrum price

COAI said the 5G spectrum pricing recommended by TRAI is too high as the industry has recommended 90 percent lower price. But TRAI recommended only about 35-40 percent reduction in prices, said telecom industry association COAI.
Beeline smartphone customers in RussiaDespite India Government’s decision to allocate 5G spectrum for a period of 30 years, TRAI has decided to recommend reserve prices for 20 years and applied 1.5 times multiple to the price if spectrum is to be taken for 30 years.

“If we look at the pan-India price of 3.5 GHz spectrum, we are back to square one with effectively no change and will nullify the relief provided by union cabinet in 2021. This defies logic and calls for lower spectrum prices by the industry and intelligentsia to keep spectrum prices lower,” SP Kochhar, Director General of COAI, said.

COAI wants TRAI to:

# Revisit its spectrum pricing recommendations. The industry strongly believes there is enough and more headroom available to reduce spectrum prices by 90 percent, in line with global norms. TRAI must do away with the 1.5 times price multiple for 30 years spectrum allocation.

# Do away with the minimum rollout obligations as this is a retrograde step. The industry must be empowered to decide its rollout strategy once it has acquired spectrum at the said price.

# Disallow private enterprise networks for the financial viability and orderly growth of the telecom industry, which is more than capable of delivering these services to businesses.

By introducing mandatory rollout obligations for 5G networks without even factoring the huge cost of such rollout, TRAI has delinked itself from reality and is running counter to the Government’s efforts of enhancing ease of doing business.

COAI said it’s best to let the service providers be the judge for rollout of networks based on market dynamics. No operator invests in large quantum of spectrum and network Capex and Opex without a clear monetization roadmap.

By allowing private captive networks for enterprises, TRAI is altering the telecom industry dynamics and hurting the financial health of the industry rather than improving it. Enterprise services constitute 30-40 percent of the industry’s overall revenues.