5G spectrum pricing has been a sticking point for Indian mobile operators, who have claimed that prices are much higher than the global going rate
In preparation for the next round of 5G spectrum auctions, India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reportedly asked telecom regulator TRAI for spectrum pricing recommendations in multiple bands.
5G spectrum pricing has been a sticking point for Indian mobile operators, who have claimed that the prices of 5G airwaves in the country are significantly higher than the global going rate. In fact, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman of Bharti Enterprises, has previously stated that the reserve price “is seven times higher than global peers,” with Jio director Mahendra Nahata and Vodafone Idea CEO Balesh Sharma having expressed similar perspectives. All three operators, at one point or another, threatened not to participate in the spectrum auctions if the prices didn’t come down.
However, while high spectrum prices did cause an initial delay in the allocation of 5G spectrum, India has since held a number of auctions. The most recent auction took place this past March and raked in winning bids of more than Rs 77,800 crore ($10.5 billion) for 855.6 megahertz of spectrum.
More specifically, Reliance Jio, unsurprisingly, spent the most in the auction, picking up 488.35 megahertz of spectrum in the 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz band for around Rs 57,100 crore ($7.8 billion). Bharti Airtel spent about Rs 18,700 crore ($2.55 billion) for its spectrum, while Vodafone Idea bought only Rs 1,993.4 crore ($272 million) worth of spectrum.
While bids were received for 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands, no bids were made for spectrum in the 700 MHz band because at $0.34 per MHz pop, the price was considered too high, indicating that there remains room for improvement when it comes to the cost of India’s 5G spectrum.