No call from DoT for revision of 700 MHz band price: Trai official

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has so far “made no reference” to the sectoral regulator for the base price revision of airwaves in the 700 MHz band, a senior official at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said.

“We have not received any reference from the telecom department to rework on the pricing for the spectrum in the 700 megahertz band… so far we have also not been asked to undertake pricing study on new frequencies meant for 5G services,” the official, who did not wish to be named, told ET.

In March this year, the coveted 700 megahertz spectrum band did not find any buyer as telecom carriers perceived the base price as too high to bid despite a 43% cost reduction to Rs 6,568 crore per unit from a whopping Rs 11,485 crore per megahertz in the 2016 auction.

Following no bid activity in the 700 megahertz radiowaves, telecom secretary Anshu Prakash said that the DoT, as per rules, will send a reference back to the Trai for a re-look at the base price of the band.

has said that the band had no economic case for operators due to high base price. Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea too remained wary during the sale.

However, Prakash believed that the 5G ecosystem would continue to develop in the 700 megahertz band, and could be put on sale together with the 3300 -3600 megahertz frequencies, for deploying next-generation commercial services, in the next sale. Experts believe that the coveted 700 megahertz band has a higher coverage competency and requires lesser capital expenditure (capex) from service providers when compared to other frequency ranges being used currently.

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Industry executives also say that the DoT is readying its plan to designate a larger quantum of airwaves for the rollout of next generation of services including an additional 60 units in the 3600 megahertz range, and has readied its plan to include millimeter wave and mid-band airwaves for 5G rollout.

Telcos were demanding a larger chunk of spectrum to roll out the next generation of services and eyeing potential enterprise offerings centred around the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and robotics.

In 2018, Trai recommended 3300-3600 megahertz range frequencies for the deployment of 5G networks, of which 125 units with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Department of Space (DoS) are likely to be vacated for commercial mobile services.



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