Indian regulator asks for comments on 5G spectrum plans

Indian regulator asks for comments on 5G spectrum plans

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has released a consultation paper entitled “Auction of spectrum in the frequencies identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) / 5G”. This apparently comes in response to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) request on 13 September to TRAI to provide recommendations on the subject.

A later request invited TRAI to factor in the Indian government’s recent telecom reform decisions with regard to future spectrum auctions. These included deferring of adjusted gross revenue and spectrum payments, abolition of spectrum usage charges from future spectrum auctions and increase in duration of spectrum allocation to 30 years.

TRAI is inviting input from stakeholders on a number of topics, including band plan, block size, and amount of spectrum to be auctioned. However, operators will no doubt be most interested in the sections covering payments – not just pricing but upfront payments, the applicable moratorium period after upfront payments, and the number of deferred payment instalments. 

TRAI is evidently worried that spectrum might remain unsold; this has happened before, notably when the 700MHz band went unsold, even after a price cut.

According to Indian news reports operators are apparently none too happy about suggested prices in the 3300 MHz - 3609 MHz band for 5G but they, and any other interested parties, have until 28 December to comment before TRAI begins work on recommending starting prices to the DoT. The 5G spectrum auction is expected to happen in the April-May period next year.

Comments on availability and pricing of spectrum for private networks, and whether the current spectrum caps should be changed, will also be invited.

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