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5G round-up: ‘Overpriced’ spectrum, GSMA’s projections, Huawei, and more

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COAI says government has overpriced the base auction of 5G

On Tuesday, a day after the government announced its intention to hold spectrum auctions within the current year, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said that the recommended base price of 5G radiowaves was 30-40% higher than those in markets such as the US and South Korea, the BusinessLine reported. COAI is the industry body that represents mobile service providers such as Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm. Rajan Mathews, the director general of COAI, said that incentives should be built in to the spectrum price, given that 5G services would also aim to serve social goals.

In August 2018, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended that the Department of Telecom (DoT) auction 20 MHz blocks in the 3,300-3,600 MHz spectrum band, which has been lined up for 5G, at a base price of  ₹492 crore per MHz, as per News18.

Telecom operators seek auction of 26GHz, 28GHz bands for 5G

The COAI, recently wrote to the Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundarajan, asking the government to auction spectrum in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands for 5G services in the upcoming sale, the Economic Times reported. These bands are considered ideal for ultra-fast wireless broadband services. COAI also suggested that the DoT urgently seek TRAI’s views on pricing these premium airwaves. The letter said that India must follow the lead of the US, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, which have already auctioned 28 GHz spectrum, and have started deployments without waiting for the International Telecom Union (ITU) to identify the band.

India may have 88 million 5G connections by 2025: GSMA

Global telecom industry body GSMA said that it expects India to have 88 million 5G connections among 920 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025, Mint reported. This, GSMA said, would leave India trailing regional peers such as China, which is set to have almost 30% of its total connection base on 5G by 2025. GSMA said that there were close to 750 million unique subscribers in India at the end of 2018, and that the country would generate almost a quarter of the world’s new mobile subscribers from 2019 to 2025.

Huawei seeks quick reply from India on 5G trial participation

Huawei Technologies called on India to decide quickly whether the company would be allowed to participate in the development of 5G technology in the country, the Economic Times reported. Huawei India chief executive Jay Chen told ET that the company had been actively engaging with the DoT for the last seven to eight months, and had answered all questions it had asked. DoT, however, appears to be divided on the issue, given the sensitive nature of Sino-Indian diplomatic ties. The report said that a section of the department believes India cannot depend on just two network equipment suppliers — Nokia and Ericsson — and said that there were risks from European vendors as well, not just Huawei. The Chinese equipment company has been under global scrutiny since the US put it in on a trade blacklist last month, effectively preventing it from doing business with US companies.

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Huawei signs deal with Russia’s MTS to build 5G network

While the DoT debates whether or not to allow Huawei to help build India’s 5G infrastructure, the Chinese technology company signed a deal with Russian telecom company MTS to develop 5G network in the country over the next year, the Guardian reported. The agreement, signed on the sidelines of a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow, will see “the development of 5G technologies and the pilot launch of fifth-generation networks in 2019-2020,” MTS said in a statement.

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