Operators push to delay 5G spectrum auction

22 Jun 2018

Indian mobile industry group the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) has said that the auction of 5G spectrum should take place in the second half of 2019 to give operators a better opportunity to assess the potential revenue streams from the new technology, the Economic Times reports. A later auction would allow the dust to settle from the current string of mergers and exits from the sector, whilst also potentially providing an opportunity for the industry’s financial health to improve, COAI head, Rajan Matthews argued. The official acknowledged the opportunities that 5G technology provides, but highlighted the Indian authorities’ tendency to overcharge for frequencies, saying that it was important to ‘get a clearer picture of what is the emerging revenue stream that attaches to the use of the spectrum,’ so that operators could properly determine the value of the airwaves before they go to auction. Mr Matthews went on: ‘You also have to address the financial health of the industry to be able to allow operators to afford investments in spectrum. Unless you allow industry to get back on their feet … who is going to lend to the industry for spectrum?’

The statement follows reports earlier this week that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is becoming increasingly frustrated by operators’ apparent disinterest in 5G, as the government aims to position India at the forefront of the new technology standard. Indeed, the DoT this week signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with three UK universities to collaborate on exploring 5G use cases and early exploitation of the technology.