Deeply disappointed by TRAI recommendations on 5G spectrum; prices still too high: COAI
Private networks once again disincentivises the telecom industry to invest in networks and continue paying high levies and taxes, COAI said.
Telecom industry body COAI, whose members include Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, has expressed deep disappointment over TRAI's recommendations on 5G, and has termed the spectrum pricing suggested by the regulator as ''too high''.
Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal declined to comment on the TRAI's spectrum pricing recommendations per se but said that as an industry association COAI represented the voice of the industry.
''COAI speaks for everyone. I have not seen COAI statement but they represent the voice of the industry,'' Mittal told reporters on the sidelines of All India Management Association (AIMA) event.
Meanwhile, in a hard-hitting statement a day after the regulator came out with 5G recommendations, COAI on Tuesday said that given the recent reforms announced by the government for telecom sector, the latest suggestions are ''one step backwards than forward'' towards building a digitally-connected India.
The Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) urged TRAI to revisit its spectrum pricing recommendations.
COAI admitted it is disappointed by TRAI recommendations on 5G spectrum bands, and rued that the spectrum pricing suggested by TRAI is too high.
''Throughout the consultation process, industry had presented extensive arguments based on global research and benchmarks, for significant reduction in spectrum prices,'' COAI said.
Industry recommended 90 per cent lower price, and to see only about 35-40 per cent reduction recommended in prices, ''is deeply disappointing,'' the association said.
The industry body claimed that there is ''enough and more headroom'' available to reduce spectrum prices by 90 per cent, in line with global norms.
According to COAI, the regulator must do away with the 1.5 times price multiple for 30 years spectrum allocation.
It has also urged TRAI to do away with the minimum rollout obligations ''as this is a retrograde step''.
''The industry must be empowered to decide its rollout strategy once it has acquired spectrum at the said price,'' the association contended.
Private enterprise networks should be disallowed for the financial viability and orderly growth of the telecom industry, which is more than capable of delivering these services to businesses, COAI said.
It went on to say that despite the government's decision to allocate 5G spectrum for a period of 30 years, TRAI decided to recommend reserve prices for 20 years and applied 1.5 times multiple to the price if spectrum is to be taken for 30 years.
''If one were to look at the pan-India price of 3.5 GHz spectrum, then we are back to square one with effectively no change and will nullify the relief provided by the Union Cabinet in the year 2021,'' COAI lamented.
The association claimed that by introducing mandatory rollout obligations for 5G networks without even factoring the huge costs involved, TRAI has ''delinked itself from reality'' and ''is running counter'' to the government's efforts of enhancing ease of doing business.
''It's best to let the service providers be the judge for rollout of networks based on market dynamics. No operator invests in large quantum of spectrum and network capex and opex without a clear monetisation roadmap and the companies are answerable to their investors and stakeholders,'' COAI said.
By allowing private captive networks for enterprises, TRAI is ''dramatically altering'' the industry dynamics and hurting the financial health of the industry rather than improving it, the association pointed out.
''Enterprise services constitute 30-40 per cent of the industry's overall revenues. Private networks once again disincentivises the telecom industry to invest in networks and continue paying high levies and taxes,'' COAI said.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)