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Govt to auction spectrum annually, draws up policy for 5G spectrum

2 Mar 2017

The Indian government has announced that it is fast-tracking a policy on the usage of high frequency spectrum bands to ensure that the regulations are in place in time for the nation’s operators to use the airwaves for 5G technology. Further, the government is planning to increase the frequency of spectrum auctions, with the possibility of holding at least one tender each year. ‘We were late in 3G and 4G, so we are keen that we should not be deprived of 5G. It has a wider application for the industry including smart cities and management of grids,’ the Economic Times quotes Telecom Secretary JS Deepak as saying. The minister added that he expects a policy on high frequency spectrum and 5G to be ready within the next three months.

On the frequency sale front, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will shortly send a request to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for recommendations on the next spectrum tender, which is expected to take place in H2 2017. The official went on to say that the government planned to offer up additional spectrum on an annual basis, ’to give an opportunity to the industry to buy spectrum as and when they need.’ Whilst the move has been praised as ‘progressive’ by industry stakeholders, the government appears to be reluctant to address the issue of excessive spectrum pricing, with Mr Deepak commenting that the state was not concerned about the possibility of airwaves being left unsold. The official also suggested that infrastructure spending from the universal service obligation fund (USOF) was set to increase, reducing the need for investment from private operators. Mr Deepak also dismissed claims that high spectrum costs had led to a decrease in CAPEX by saying that the industry had no difficulty raising additional funds.

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