The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday released a detailed consultation paper to discuss modalities for the upcoming auction of 5G spectrum bands including pricing, quantum of the required radiowaves and associated conditions like upfront payments.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on September 13 had requested TRAI to provide recommendations on “Auction of spectrum in the frequencies identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT)/ 5G”.

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“Subsequently, DoT, through its letter dated September 23, informed about the government’s telecom reform decisions with regard to future spectrum auctions and requested TRAI to consider/ factor in the same while providing recommendations,” TRAI said in a statement.

TRAI suggestions sought

Accordingly, DoT has, inter-alia, requested TRAI to provide recommendations on issues such as applicable reserve price, band plan, block size, quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and associated conditions for auction of spectrum in 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, it said.

It has also sought comments from stakeholders including on associated conditions like upfront payments, applicable moratorium period after upfront payments, number of deferred payment instalments and other related modalities for auction of spectrum with validity for 30 years; for creating provisions for surrender of spectrum, conditions, and fee for such surrender of spectrum; and other recommendations on regulatory/ technical requirements.

It has sought the written comments on the issues by December 28 and counter-comments by January 11, 2022.

Spectrum auction

The government had conducted auction of spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz bands in March this year. A total of 2,308.80 MHz spectrum worth over ₹4 lakh-crore at ‘reserve price’ in different band-LSA1 combinations was put to auction, out of which 855.60 MHz quantum was sold in the auction resulting in total winning bids worth ₹77,820.81 crore.

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No bids were received in 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands. Spectrum unsold in the auction held in March 2021 may be put to auction in the forthcoming auction.

Recently, the telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had also asked the government for a drastic cut in spectrum price for the proliferation of digital connectivity and specially for ushering 5G services. It requested the government to reduce the base price by more than half in the proposed spectrum auction, which is likely to happen around April-May 2022.