Telecom industry not in good shape; 5G auctions should be delayed: Voda CTO

Topics 5G auction | Vodafone | 5G spectrum

Vodafone Idea
Vodafone Idea, which is battling financial stress, believes that the sale of 5G airwaves should be based on India specific cases instead of examples from developed countries.

Vodafone Idea, CTO, Vishant Vora said on Wednesday that auctions should be held later, rather than sooner, as the industry was not in good financial health.

“The industry has a serious financial health issue. Spectrum auction should happen later rather than sooner and we need to make sure that 5G is based on India-specific cases,” he told Business Standard in an interview.

Vora said that while autonomous vehicles were a major pillar of 5G in many places in the world, this would never happen in India as also things like remote surgery, which requires reliable power in rural areas and would pose a challenge.

Spectrum is allotted and not auctioned in various geographies like China and Japan. However, these governments take a long-term strategic view that 5G will be the foundation for digital society and therefore invest in 5G to make other industries more effective, Vora added.

Vodafone Idea has time and again said that the company was not keen on participating in the auctions as the reserve prices proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) were very high.

Meanwhile, on the spectrum integration front, Vora said that the company would be able to do it before the targeted timeline.

“We are going to complete the spectrum integration in 18 months from the earlier plan of 26 months. We are one year into it and we have done three-fourth of it already, so we are well on track with that (integration),” he said.

The company has integrated 14 circles fully and is in the final stages of integration.

Recently, Vodafone Idea top brass -- Vodafone Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee, Chief Executive Officer Nick Read and Vodafone-Idea Managing Director and CEO Ravinder Takkar -- met Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash at a time when the central government is busy preparing for the upcoming spectrum auctions.

Vodafone Idea has been seeking a two-year moratorium on its annual spectrum payment citing debt and stress on the balance sheet.

Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, in September, had called on Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for deferring statutory payments in a sector that was not generating enough cash to even service loans.

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