India’s chief ministers of telecoms and defence have been assigned to a new committee aimed at simplifying and clarifying the country’s spectrum allocation process.
The Economic Times reported that the new panel will establish which spectrum bands should be made available, resolve conflicting interests between ministries, and auction available spectrum every year. It will also draw up long-term spectrum release plans to provide further clarity to operators.
In addition to telecoms and defence, the committee also features representatives from Home Affairs, the Department of Space, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Railways Ministry. The committee’s first task is to procure several blocks of 26GHz spectrum from the Department of Space so that they can be sold for 5G use by the Department of Telecommunications.
The panel convened for the first time on 12th October, as the government faces increasing pressure from operators to set out a spectrum release schedule so that they can more effectively plan their deployments and allocate capex budgets.
ET noted that the committee may in the future be tasked with setting spectrum reserve prices. This year’s scheduled 5G auctions have been delayed into next year primarily due to concerns that operators would decline to bid as the reserve prices were too high.
India’s last spectrum auction was held in October 2016, and brought in $9.8 billion. An auction of around 2475MHz of 4G spectrum was planned for this year but delayed into 2021 despite major players such as Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel expressing their interest.