DCC rejects demands by India telcos to lower 5G spectrum prices further

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India’s Digital Communications Commission (DCC) on Tuesday supported TRAI’s recommended base prices for 5G spectrum, discarding telcos’ demands for further reductions.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will seek Cabinet approval for the DCC’s views next week which will pave the way for 5G spectrum auctions in the country.

In April, TRAI issued its long-awaited recommendations on base prices for %G spectrum, which included a 39% reduction from 2018 prices. India’s private telcos such as Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea had urged the regulator and the DoT to lower 5G reserve prices by 90%.

The DCC, an inter-ministerial panel with the DoT secretary as its chairman, has also backed a DoT panel view of auctioning spectrum for 20 years, while telcos want this to be increased to 30 years. However, the final decision on this aspect will be taken by the Indian Cabinet, which will also decide the auction modalities, including 5G spectrum base prices

The DCC, which is the highest decision making body of the government, also suggested that millimetre wave spectrum in the 27.5-28.5 GHz band be kept out of the 5G auction, saying that it must be reserved for satellite players planning to offer broadband services.

The Economic Times reported that the DoT will put forward a Cabinet note on 5G auctions in the coming two to three days.

DoT Secretary K Rajaraman told the publication TRAI has placed a fairly strong set of recommendations that will enable the market to participate very actively in the upcoming auctions. He added that 5G will be a reality this year.

India plans to auction 5G spectrum around June or July, and is reportedly targeting for the first 5G call to be placed by August or September.

The report, citing market analysts, said that the suggested base prices remained “very high” compared to all global benchmarks. Analysts now expect bidding for 5G spectrum, particularly in the mid-band, to be lukewarm.

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