- Coronavirus may cause delay in the auction of 5G Spectrum.
- Telecom companies like Airtel and Vodafone are hesitant to participate in the auction because of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) debt.
- TRAI has remained unaffected despite the severe criticism faced where 5G pricing is concerned.
Owing to the ongoing plight of Coronavirus, 5G rollout in India could face potential delay. The government may face a hard time in organising the 5G auction, according to analysts, ET Telecom reported. Telecom operators however are not keen to participate in the 5G auction.
Airtel and Vodafone may pull out of the auction. Airtel CEO, Gopal Vittal has, in fact, stated that the 5G prices are beyond their reach.
Reliance Jio, is also hoping for a delay in the auction.
According to Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, the value of the unsold spectrum by Trai in its recommendations on Auction of Spectrum in 700 MHz, 88MHz, 900MHz, 1800Mhz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz, 2500MHz, 3300-3400MHz, 3400-3600MHz Bands sated August 1, 2018 is Rs 4.9 L crore.
A few months ago, the Department of Telecom (DoT) allowed vendors including Huawei to participate in the auction. China is the hub for manufacturing telecom gear. With the deadly outbreak of the virus, telecom gear makers have been facing difficulty to manufacture the 5G gear.
In India, the government is planning to conduct the next spectrum auction in Q1 FY21, where it is supposed to auction both 4G and 5G airwaves. However, Rajiv Sharma, research head at SBICap told Telecom Talk that the government may find it difficult to roll out the 5G plans as they are expensive.'
Besides, with the prolonged epidemic, 5G network deployment and device availability may get affected in India to a large extent.
Regardless of the virus, the telecom companies are hesitant to participate in the auction because of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) debt.
AGR is the usage and licensing fee that the DoT charges telecom operators.
The Cellular Operations Association of India (COAI) has also criticised the pricing for the 5G auction. It appreciated the government's effort but also expressed that the pricing is highly unrealistic.
Ravi Shankar Prasad in the past has said that there is enough spectrums available for 5G services to be launched in the country.
The minister had said that 275 MegaHertz of radiowaves frequency between 3,300-3400MHz and 3,425 to 3,600MHz band is available for 5G auction.
Broadband India Forum (BIF) officials told ET had said that the quantum of frequency proposed is insufficient to start the next generation phone services. However, Prasad in a letter had said that Department of Technology is of the view which states that the present available spectrum is enough to start 5G services.
DoT may roll out 5G by 2020. Ericsson, a Swedish company has stated that the connections are likely to be available in India from 2022.