High 5G spectrum prices will have long-term impact on telecom sector: Parl panel to govt – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The parliamentary standing committee on information technology in its report tabled in Lok Sabha on Wednesday has expressed concerns over high spectrum prices and urged the government to take note of concerns raised by telecom operators.
Pushing for an early roll out of 5G services in the country, the Shashi Tharoor-led House panel said delay in implementing 5G spectrum will deprive the country of taking advantage of various benefits of 5G when other nations have made noticeable progress in the deployment of the technology.
“It is high time that 5G should be rolled out in India in some specific use cases. However, the Committee do not see any progress in that direction. The Committee, therefore, reiterates that the Department need to review all their policies relating to 5G so that the country is not left behind in the race for 5G,” the panel said in the report.
The panel also said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) should be directed to expedite their recommendations on the 5G spectrum so that the 5G auction can be held at the earliest.
While asserting the need for a review of spectrum pricing, the committee also raised concerns over the exorbitant prices of 5G spectrum in India and pointed out that these are considerably higher when compared to other countries.
The panel also observed that it was informed that unit pricing of 5G spectrum in India showed that it is seven-times costlier than UK, 14 times costlier than Australia, 35 times costlier than Spain and 70 times costlier than Austria.
“The Committee had recommended the Department to look into the issue of high spectrum price and come out with a convincing spectrum pricing policy that is sustainable, affordable and acceptable to all,” the report said.
It added, “The concern of the Committee is that price of the spectrum in the country should not become so unsustainable that it may have a long-term negative impact on the telecom sector as a whole. Considering the stress in the telecom sector, high spectrum price will have a detrimental effect on TSPs to fully roll out 5G in the country. The Committee reiterate that the concerns of the TSPs with regard to spectrum pricing in the country are given due attention.”
The panel also said concerns raised by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) for rationalisation of levies and duties in the telecom sector should also be given time-bound consideration by the government.
COAI had sought a reduction of spectrum usage charge by 5% and license fees from 8% to 3%.

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