Industry Seeks 5G Consultation Paper Extension

5GThe telecom service operators and network technology providers led by an industry lobby group have sought the deadline extension of the regulator’s consultation paper on the sale of spectrum in the frequencies identified for the rollout of fifth-generation or 5G services.

“The industry has asked for an extension of the consultation paper on the auction of 5G airwaves to provide improved and detailed responses,” a person familiar with the matter told.

On November 30, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) released a consultation paper and sought industry comments by December 28, and counter-comments by January 11, 2022.

Last week, the Delhi-based Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) sent a letter to the telecom watchdog saying to allow the timeline extension. The group represents incumbents such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

But, however, no stakeholder has responded as yet to the sector watchdog’s discussion paper to bring in recommendations for the commercial rollout of next-generation telecom services.

Trai was against any extension initially but, according to the source, a final decision is expected to be taken soon.

In September, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) asked the sector regulator to provide its views on the auction of spectrum in the frequencies identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) for 5G applications.

The department sought base price, band plan, block size, the quantum of spectrum to be put on auction, and associated conditions for auction of spectrum in the 526-698 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3670 MHz and 24.25-28.5 GHz bands for IMT/5G services.

The 5G spectrum put on sale would have validity for 30 years, for which the department has asked Trai to also come out with the quantum of upfront payment, applicable moratorium period, the number of deferred payments, installments, and related modalities.

The telecom sector led by COAI and GSMA has been demanding price rationalization of airwaves.

London-based GSMA said that India should consider factors to create the policy and regulatory framework to optimize the country’s 5G potential.

“The key priority for the government is to release sufficient amount of 5G spectrum with modest prices,” Julian Gorman, head of Asia Pacific at GSMA recently said, adding that carriers have a smaller spectrum than in most countries, yet, they have paid almost nine times more per unit over the past 10 years than comparable countries.

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