Vodafone Idea wants India to postpone spectrum auction till 2020

Vodafone Idea has urged the Department of Telecom (DoT) not to conduct spectrum auction till 2020.
Idea and Vodafone dealsVodafone Idea believes the Indian telecom operators will need spectrum only once the 5G ecosystem is ready, PTI reported.

“A robust 4G network is a must for 5G to work. Telecom service providers are focussing on optimising 4G networks and making them 5G ready. They have sufficient spectrum for the purpose,” Vodafone Idea said.

“Once the 5G ecosystem, including enabling hardware, develops and India-specific use cases are piloted, a need for more quality spectrum will arise,” Vodafone Idea said.

If India government does not conduct spectrum auction in 2019, it will impact the 5G plans of several telecom operators in India.

“We want to ensure that 5G is not limited to urban areas. It should reach rural areas. For this, we have to work with states to ensure that there is 100 percent penetration of optical fibre cables. Without massive OFC penetration, 5G services will not expand. States have to provide smooth right of way permissions,” Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said recently.

Global telecom industry association GSA says that 45 countries in the world that are either considering introducing certain spectrum bands for 5G services, holding consultations regarding suitable spectrum allocations for 5G, have reserved spectrum for 5G, have announced plans to auction frequencies or have already allocated spectrum for 5G use.

NDCP 2018 (National Digital Communications Policy) rightly treats telecom as a critical enabler for a digital economy that will help the financially stressed telecom sector strengthen in the interim, Vodafone Idea said.

Spectrum must be made affordable such that it empowers the Indian telecom sector to fulfil its designated role of making broadband accessible to all and for achieving the larger vision of Digital India, Vodafone Idea said.

The industry has earlier sought relief measures entailing debt restructuring, cut in levies, and release of GST input tax credit locked up with the government.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Vodafone Idea, had asked the India government for deferring statutory payments due to lack of enough cash to service loans. The Vodafone Idea chief had also expressed concern over Rs 30,000 crore that is locked up on account of GST payment under reverse charge mechanism.