The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) may not change the existing reserve price of spectrum in the 3.3-3.6 GHz band for the launch of commercial 5G services in the country, Indian newspaper The Economic Times reported, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.
“We are unlikely to revisit our pricing and stand that we have already taken earlier, but may consider newer bands such as the millimeter wave (mmWave) band with a reasonable price to drive economic benefits,” the source said.
The reserve price for 5G spectrum has been set at INR 4.92 billion ($66.2 million) per each megahertz.
Local carriers have been insisting that the floor price recommended by the regulator is unaffordable and will seriously affect the launch of commercial 5G services in the country. The Cellular Operators Association of India had also previously warned that the high reserve price for 5G frequencies would make it difficult for local carrier to take part in the 5G spectrum auction. The reserve prices set by Trai for 5G airwaves is nearly 4-6 times higher than that of the prices in other countries.
In 2019, the sector regulator had dismissed the Department of Telecommunications’ move to cut 5G frequency pricing, stating that “the authority reiterates the spectrum valuation and reserve prices as contained in its recommendations dated 1st August 2018.”
The department has previously said that the unsold 700 MH spectrum may be potentially offered in the 5G auction along with those airwaves in the 3.3-3.6 GHz band.
In March this year, the 700 MHz spectrum band did not have bidders, because local operators believed that the base price was too high.
In May, India’s Department of Telecommunications authorized local carriers to carry out trials of 5G technology in the country. The entity said that the permits were given to Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone Idea and MTNL, which will carry out these 5G trials in partnerships with vendors including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance Jio Infocomm will also be conducting trials using its own technology. Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE were not included in this phase of 5G trials.
The 5G trials are expected to last for a six-month period, which includes a time period of two months for procurement and setting up of the equipment.
The permission letters specify that each carrier will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also in addition to urban areas.
5G subscriptions in India are forecast to reach 330 million in 2026, according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report. This technology will account 26% of total mobile subscriptions in the Asian country by that year, the Swedish vendor said.