'Enough' spectrum to begin rolling out of 5G services in India, says Prasad

Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said there was ‘enough’ spectrum available to start 5G services, putting to rest the claims by the industry that the airwaves were not sufficient for rolling out these next generation services. 

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Prasad said, “The value of unsold spectrum as on date according to valuation by the Trai in its recommendations on auction of spectrum in 700 MHz, 800MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3400 MHz, 3400-3600MHz bands dated 01.08.2018 is Rs 4.9 lakh crores.” 

Spectrum available for 5G auction is — 3300 to 3400 MHz and 3425 to 3600 MHz. In other developed countries, spectrum likely to be used for 5G services is — 3300 to 3400 MHz, 3400 to 3600 MHz, 3600 to 3700 MHz, and 4800 to 4990 MHz.

Broadband India Forum, in their representation to the government, has said the quantum of 5G spectrum that has been allocated for the upcoming 5G spectrum auction is not enough for a country of India’s size and density.

“In DoT’s view, the present available spectrum is enough to start the 5G services,” the minister said.

Besides the quantum, the three telecos — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio, have time and again said base price for the 5G spectrum was very high. They had even expressed their reservation in participating in the proposed auctions.

The Trai had recommended a pan-Indian base price of Rs 492 crore per MHz for 5G radiowaves while lowering the base price of frequencies that remained unsold in the 2016 auctions. Airwaves in the 3,300-3,600 MHz 5G band will be auctioned in the block size of 20 MHz.

The reserve price for the premium 700 MHz spectrum, which went unsold in the 2016 auctions, was reduced by more than 40 per cent to Rs 6,568 crore per MHz all-India from Rs 11,485 crore in 2016.

The Trai recommended a base price of Rs 4,651 crore for paired spectrum in the 800 MHz band covering 19 circles, Rs 1,622 crore per MHz for the 900 MHz band covering seven circles, Rs 3,399 crore per MHz in the 2,100 MHz band covering 21 circles, and Rs 821 crore per MHz in the 2,500 MHz band covering 12 circles. It also suggested Rs 960 crore per MHz for unpaired spectrum in the 2,300 MHz band on a pan-Indian basis. 

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