Yet another industry voice is being raised in India’s ongoing debate about 5G spectrum prices. This time the ITU-APT Foundation of India (IAFI), a non-profit telecom industry association, is getting involved.
According to India’s Economic Times newspaper, the IAFI, which is recognized as an international/regional telecommunications organisation by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has recommended that 5G spectrum prices in all bands should not only be “priced reasonably” for telecom operators but should also be “significantly lower” than the rest of the world.
This is part of the IAFI submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s consultation paper on the 5G spectrum auction. IAFI has recommended a reserve price for nationwide spectrum per MHz of Rs 500 crores (about $67.5 million) for the 700MHz band, Rs 100 crores (about $13.5 million) per MHz for C-band, and Rs 80 crores (about $10.8 million) per 10MHz for mmWave.
Whether the TRAI will take any notice of these price recommendations is hard to judge, but the IAFI does make a telling point when it says that the reserve price fixed for the auction in 700MHz in Feb 2021 was 34 times higher than the price set internationally. That attempt to sell 700MHz spectrum was not successful.
IAFI adds that the regulator has recommended a reserve price for C band many times higher than the average price seen at recent spectrum auctions around the world.
The TRAI has sought stakeholder views on the auction of 5G spectrum bands and related issues.
IAFI will no doubt be far from the only stakeholder to make the point that 5G spectrum in India is overpriced. However, spectrum remains a valuable asset and one whose value the Indian government will want to maximise.