The Price Is Not Right: India’s Spectrum Costs

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1Q 2020 | IN-5759


Resolute Price Maker


Amidst a wave of pushback from the nation’s biggest mobile carriers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is standing pat on its initial spectrum pricing recommendations to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Back in August 2018, the regulator had suggested that ₹492 crore (US$68.2 million) should be the base price per MHz of 3.3 to 3.6 GHz band. The government, however, has flagged that this price-point might be too steep and would further disincentivize participation in an auction that would already have a low turnout (recent consolidation has effectively reduced the market to three remaining private operators: Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea).

Despite this, the TRAI is remaining firm on its recommendations. The concerns of lowered demand for spectrum and possible non-participation in the auction are not deterring the TRAI’s spectrum pricing; “… [the auction] is an open process and there is always a possibility of additional players participating in the process.”

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