5G spectrum concerns: Indian DoT calls for swift policy implementation

5g spectrum

India needs to hasten its implementation of forward-thinking telecom policies that were approved by the country’s Cabinet back in 2018, to take advantage of the benefits hailing from emerging technologies, Department of Telecom member Bharat Kumar Jog told reporters on Wednesday.

“National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 seeks to unlock transformative power of digital communications network to achieve the goal of digital empowerment and wellbeing of the people of India. There is a need to expedite implementation of NDCP 2018. The government is working with all stakeholders for the same,” Jog said at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2020.

While the targets set by the NDCP 2018 have been approved and are forecasted to be achieved by 2022, mobile service providers across India are calling for the government to quicken their implementation efforts in fear of lagging behind other countries.

Some of the strategies set forth by the NDCP include rationalization of taxes, levies, and spectrum price, since mobile service providers can commence rolling out 5G services in India once suitable airwave frequencies are allotted to them by the government.

“The policy initiatives required from the government for 5G must include and ensure spectrum availability at affordable prices, lower reserve price, uniform RoW (right of way) policy for fabrication etc.…” Jog added.

The Digital Communications Commission, the apex decision making body at DoT, had approved spectrum base price recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in May.

However, telcos within the country have been reluctant to jump onto the spectrum due to its pricing.

Back in October, Airtel’s leadership, including its Chief Executive Officer, Gopal Vittal, have said that the ecosystem for 5G is still underdeveloped and that the spectrum is expensive; in parallel, Reliance Jio Chairman Mukesh Ambani has continuously urged the Indian government to accelerate 5G rollout.

Lack of clarity shrouds India’s 5G spectrum auction, mainly due to policy delays and the sudden breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic which halted the auctions dead in their tracks, as they were expected back in early 2020.

“India is today among the best digitally connected nations in the world. To maintain this lead, policy steps are needed to accelerate the early rollout of 5G, and to make it affordable and available everywhere. I assure you that JIO will pioneer the 5G Revolution in India in the second half of 2021. It will be powered by the indigenous-developed network, hardware and technology components,” the Reliance Chairman said during his speech at the fourth edition of the India Mobile Congress.