NEW DELHI: Highlighting some of the major events of 2019 in the telecom sector, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said that the base price for 5G airwaves at Rs 492 crore per MHz suggested by the DoT is “exorbitant”.
“Telecom operators in October this year urged the government to look into spectrum pricing as they are currently exorbitant,” COAI said in its note and asked for an “early” referral from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in order to include the coveted 26 Ghz band in the upcoming 5G auctions.
Last week, despite repeated protests from industry players, the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) approved the spectrum prices recommended by the TRAI.
According to Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, the `5.22 lakh crore spectrum auction for the sale of 8,300 MHz of airwaves across 22 circles is likely to take place in March-April next year.
The decision has been met with bleak reactions from the industry, with the COAI stating that telcos will find it “very difficult” to participate in the auctions due to the high base prices — 4 to 6 times costlier than global standards.
To note, the sector is already reeling under huge a debt and recently faced a major blow when the Supreme Court asked it to pay `1.47 lakh crore to the DoT. COAI further said that it believes that the Supreme Court ruling on revenue definition (AGR), will deal a “disastrous blow” to the industry, given its precarious financial condition.
“Given the broad implication of the SC ruling, which has now ensnared companies outside the telecom space, we hope the government will devise a suitable way out of the corundum,” it said.
The operator association also expects some relief for the sector in the upcoming budget.
“While the consolidations, cascading taxation, hyper competitions and the resultant low tariffs shook the sector to the core, no actual relief was announced in the Union Budget 2019-20. We expect this situation to improve going forward.”