India operators cool on 5G auction
India’s upcoming 5G auction has reportedly been met with a muted response by the country’s major operators, which remain at odds with the government’s decision to allocate some airwaves to enterprises for private networks.
In an interview, S.P. Kochhar, director general of industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) told Reuters the country’s biggest operators Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea were upset about the make-up of the auction, estimating a potential 5G revenue loss of 40 per cent.
The COAI, which represents the interests of major operators Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, failed in attempts to dissuade the regulator from setting aside spectrum for enterprises, while technology companies including Amazon and Google supported the plan.
Kochhar explained operators were counting on demand from enterprises to justify a major investment to the tune of billions of dollars, considering it expects uptake of 5G by retail consumers to be slow due to the current economic environment.
Other unnamed sources told Reuters operators were now planning to make muted bids in the auction, with the rise of private networks dampening the 5G business case.
The government hopes allowing enterprises access to 5G spectrum and, in turn private networks, will drive innovation across a range of sectors, following success with similar moves in South Korea and Germany.
India’s auction is due to be held in July and the government has set a reserve price of INR3.2 billion ($40.5 million) for a total of 72GHz of spectrum up for grabs.