Further news from the India Mobile Congress, where 5G spectrum price and interconnect usage charges (IUC) yet again overshadowed many other topics at the event.
Among a number of concerns expressed, Jio director Mahendra Nahata warned that “higher floor rates would lead to 5G networks becoming unviable and getting delayed”.The base rate for 5G airwaves in the 3.3-3.6 GHz bands set by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is, for now, Rs 492 crore a unit (about $69 million at the current exchange rate). Operators are required to buy in a block of 20 units.
Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman of Bharti Enterprises, called on the government to take steps to unlock GST credit, lower licence fees and spectrum usage charges (SUC) and revise customs duty on telecom kit. He also highlighted the litigation, low ARPU and right of way approvals issues mentioned here yesterday.
In addition, given that the sharp fall in data usage prices has increased demand, there were calls at the event for the government to ensure spectrum is continuously available to the industry.
The government has already hinted that 5G spectrum prices will be reviewed. Now Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman R S Sharma has said the issues of interconnect usage charges (IUC) and call ring time will be resolved soon.
Reliance Jio wants IUC to be scrapped from January 2020 as originally decided by TRAI. Jio is being accused by other operators of short ring alerts, leading to more missed calls and thus more return calls into Jio’s network, allowing it to cut its IUC payouts to the other operators.
Despite all the debate, according to some reports in the Indian press the first day of the Congress was a quiet one, with a number of senior operator and government figures not appearing. It seems that, until a number of issues are resolved, some operators may not feel like celebrating the growth of mobile communications in India just yet.