Vodafone Idea wants India to release 5G spectrum like China and Japan

India 5G China and Japan
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Vodafone Idea Limited, which recently rebranded into Vi, wants the Indian government to revisit its spectrum allocation policy and adopt a strategy similar to one adopted by countries like China and Japan for 5G technology. Both the countries have allocated airwaves via an administrative route instead of auctions.

The Indian telco’s chief technology officer Vishant Vora such a move will allow telecom operators in India to invest heavily in building the 5G networks.

“…look at what Chinese and Japanese have done. They recognise that 5G is the foundational piece of the economy. Instead of charging for spectrum, they are helping telcos build the network. It is worthwhile to think about,” Vora was quoted as saying by local media.

Vodafone Idea and its rival Bharti Airtel have already said that they will not buy 5G spectrum as its base price at Rs 492 crore ($67.4 million) per megahertz is “too high.”

India has earmarked 3,300-3,600 Mhz band for 5G services. The country’s telecom regulator, Trai, has recommended that base price at about Rs 492 crore ($67.4 million) per Mhz unpaired spectrum in the band on pan India basis.

Reportedly, Indian telcos will have to pay a minimum of Rs 9,840 crore ($1.35 billion) on a pan-India basis to buy spectrum in 3,300-3,600 Mhz band for a block of 20 MHz.

Vodafone Idea, however, said that it is readying its network for 5G services with the help of technologies like massive mimo and 5G-ready RAN products.  

The telco recently submitted a fresh 5G trial application with the country’s telecom department without Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE. Both Chinese vendors provide 4G technology to the telco in various circles.

Vora told the media that Vodafone Idea is engaged with the Indian government over 5G trials and participation of Chinese vendors. He added that the company will follow the government’s decision on Chinese vendors.

The Indian government hasn’t taken any decision on banning Chinese vendors from supplying 5G technology. However, it has already banned them from supplying any kind of network technology to state run telecom operators BSNL and MTNL.

After getting clarity from the country’s Supreme Court on AGR dues, Vodafone Idea has started investment expansion. The company’s board recently approved additional Rs 15,000 crore ($2.05 billion) debt funding and potentially another Rs 15000 crore ($2.05 billion) equity funding. 

The telco’s CEO and managing director Ravinder Takkar recently said that the company has sufficient funds to be able to continue network expansion and compete effectively in the marketplace.

On Tuesday, Vodafone Idea extended its partnership with IBM to deploy an open source-based big data platform. IBM is helping VIL transform the way data is optimized and delivered to partners, employees and internal systems.

“Along with IBM we have implemented many first-of-kind projects and the big data and analytics engagement is one such initiative. The open source approach has helped us in modernizing infrastructure and network experience, helping our people and partners in quicker business decision making. The power of data will help transform our cloud and AI journey in the future,” Vora said.

IBM, which is the telco’s IT outsourcing partner, had earlier this year bagged a deal from Vodafone Idea for hybrid cloud transformation using open technologies. 

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