‘TRAI open to re-examining 4G and 5G spectrum prices’

Ayushi Kar Mumbai | Updated on September 13, 2021

Next Cabinet meet may take up issue of telecom bailout package: TRAI Secretary

Even as the Centre is readying a bailout package for the telecom sector, the Telecom Regulatory Authority India (TRAI) is open to re-examining the price of 4G and 5G spectrum. The telecom regulator is also backing a reduction in the licence fee for operators to 6 per cent.

Speaking to BusinessLine, the newly-appointed TRAI Secretary, V Raghunandan, said: “Once the Department of Telecommunications sends the reference for 700 MHz, TRAI will be open to re-examining its reference price.”

The 700 MHz spectrum band was up for auctions in 2016 as well, where it remained unsold due to high reserve prices. Now, it is going to be put for auction for the upcoming 5G spectrum auctions that are slated to happen next year. Sources told BussinessLine that DoT would be sending the reference for mid-band, mm-wave and 700 MHz spectrum to TRAI soon.

Bailout package

Raghunandan also said that the upcoming telecom bailout package is likely to be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting and will be a package for telcos overall. “TRAI was not, however, a participant in discussions regarding details of the package,” clarified Raghunandan.

Regarding TRAI’s stance on to what extent the licence fee should be reduced, Raghunandan said: “Of the 8 per cent licence fee, 5 per cent is earmarked for the Universal Service Obligation Fund, which is aimed to provide connectivity to remote and rural areas. That will not be touched until we achieve sufficient rural connectivity. Therefore, you are looking a possible licence fee of 5-6 per cent.”

Regarding TRAI’s ongoing conflict with broadcasters on the second edition of the new tariff order, the regulator is not likely to take action against broadcasters that missed the August 12 implementation deadline to submit the new Reference Interconnect Offer since the matter is sub judice and awaits Supreme Court judgment on Monday.

‘Awaits SC order’

“Implementation of the NTO 2.0 is going to be a long-drawn process, so delay by a few weeks will not have much consequence. Moreover, should Supreme Court rule against the implementation of NTO, commencing the implementation process would be wasted efforts. Therefore, TRAI awaits to hear from the Supreme Court,” said Raghunandan.

Published on September 13, 2021

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