NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) feels that the pricing of 5G or fifth-generation technology frequency bands is a critical element that requires a thorough examination before shooting off a proposal to the government.
“3300 Mhz-3600 Mhz is a new band which is going to be used for 5G services and that requires an in-depth study. How to develop a pricing framework is a crucial area to look at it,” Trai Secretary Sunil K Gupta told ET.
Trai is currently analyzing comments after it had conducted an open house discussion on January 18 various issues— including reserve price, quantum of spectrum and appropriate time for the impending radio waves auction across 3G, 4G and 5G bands.
Since the proposed airwaves sale would also include first-of-its kind of 5G frequency bands, fixing a base price is a sensitive issue, Trai’s top official said.
In August 2017, sector watchdog had released a consultation paper for sale across nine bands, and sought views on ‘valuation methodology’ and asked if such an assessment could be derived from any other frequency band using a technical efficiency factor for the 3300-3400 MHz and 3400-3600 MHz airwaves used for 5G services.
The regulator is aggressively working in-house to arrive at valuation of 5G bands, and has also roped in IIT Bombay faculty member and expert Abhay Karandikar as a part-time associate. Karandikar is also the chairman of the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI) and a member of government-led 5G Forum.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has posed certain queries on the upcoming auction, and based on the examination of industry comments, the telecom regulator would accordingly recommend a broad outcome soon, according to Gupta.
The top executive, however, declined to reveal specific time frame when it intends to send its consolidated proposal to the government paving a way for the mega sale across 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3400 MHz and 3400-3600 MHz radio waves bands.
In January, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that the department was expecting a report from Trai before it could come up with its views and would also keep ‘an open mind’ on the next spectrum auction.
Telcos led by lobby group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), were however, hostile towards holding radio waves auction before 2019 citing sectoral financial stress as well as lack of technical standards and regulatory challenges for 5G rollout.
The Delhi-based group represents market leader Bharti Airtel, UK-headquartered Vodafone India, Aditya Birla group’s Idea Cellular and billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio Infocomm.
Gupta, however, believes that India is in full alignment with the industry developments worldwide and is capable to rollout 5G technology by 2020.
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