Letter to BS: It is vital to revise the reserve price for 5G spectrum

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Apropos your excellent editorial “Pricing impasse” (July 12), I do hope the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) listens to your sane advice and has a serious relook at the totally impractical reserve price for the 5G spectrum auction. In fact, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has taken a conservative position by suggesting a price of Rs 492 crore per MHz; if it were to consider the ground reality in the sector, it would actually recommended an even lower figure. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's admission — stress in the industry — was a pragmatic statement and it would be fair for the DCC to accept the Trai suggestion. The possibility of mopping up Rs 5.53 trillion should help the government arrive at a practical decision. By insisting on the higher reserve price, DCC may well be killing the proverbial golden goose. 

The DCC should realise these are indeed unusual times. The debt burden of Rs 4.3 trillion on the telecom industry is close to breaking its back. Players need all possible assistance at this time to ensure they do not buckle under pressure. Bharti's decision to not participate in the 5G auction and Vodafone’s suggestion for delaying the same have both been made under duress. Clearly they don't want to miss the 5G bus but are helpless at this point.

Krishan Kalra, Gurugram

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