Trai says govt free to offer the option to telcos to buy spectrum for 20 or 30 years
The stage is set for the 5G auctions to take place in June or July at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) determined prices. However, the government has the option to offer the telecom operators either 20 or 30 years after the auction. The price for 30 years would be 1.5 times more than 20 years.
Trai on Monday wrote back to the department of telecommunications (DoT) that it is up to them to decide upon the tenure of the spectrum assignment – 20 years or 30 years.
The Digital Communications Commission (DCC) had earlier decided that an option should be given to the operators but needed to seek Trai’s view as per the procedure.
Last year in September, they had announced that henceforth spectrum after auctions would be given on a 30-year lease.
The DCC had not differed with the Trai on the reserve price though the operators had raised concerns regarding it being high.
Trai, however, did not agree with DoT’s views that minimum rollout obligations should apply in a combined manner to 3300-3670 Mhz bands and 24.5-27.5 GHz bands. The regulator said imposing combined rollout conditions on telecom operators acquiring spectrum in one of these bands will not be justifiable. Moreover, combined minimum rollout obligations may also open doors for hoarding of spectrum in one of these spectrum bands, leading to underutilisation of valuable natural resources viz. spectrum.
On private networks, Trai said DoT should utilise the option of leasing spectrum to meet the demand for private networks. Further, the telecom regulator did not agree with DoT’s views about seeking the Authority’s recommendations before the conduct of every (annual/shorter interval) auction, as this would not be necessary unless DoT concludes that the changes in the techno-commercial ecosystem and other factors warrant a fresh valuation.
It agreed to DoT’s views on reserving spectrum for BSNL and the Railways and not auctioning 27.5-28.5 GHz in the upcoming sale.
Regarding spectrum in the 27.5-28.5 GHz band and its allocation, Trai said it is for the DoT to decide. The satellite players have been demanding the frequency range. The DCC has decided not to put the spectrum in the upcoming sale.