Vodafone Idea has urged to the telecom department not to hold the spectrum auction till 2020 amid the escalating financial burden.
A letter to this effect has been written by Vodafone Idea Ltd to the Department of Telecom (DoT), on the grounds that fresh need for quality radiowaves will arise only once the 5G ecosystem is ready, according to a government source.
When contacted, Vodafone Idea Ltd in an e-mail said, “For 5G to work, a robust 4G network is a must. Accordingly, telecom service providers in India are currently focused on optimising 4G networks and making them 5G ready, for which they have sufficient spectrum.”
Once the 5G ecosystem, including enabling hardware, develops and India-specific use cases are successfully piloted, a need for more quality spectrum will arise, the company said adding “this is likely to take up to 2020”.
“In the interim, a diligent implementation of NDCP 2018 (National Digital Communications Policy) that rightly treats telecom as a critical enabler for a digital economy will help the financially stressed telecom sector strengthen. Going forward, spectrum must be made affordable such that it empowers the Indian telecom sector to fulfil its designated role of making broadband accessible to all and for achieving the larger vision of Digital India,” said Vodafone Idea said.
The move comes at a time when a majority of telecom players are facing a financial turmoil. Over the past few years, India’s telecom market had become cut-throat where nearly a dozen players jostled for market share, pummelling the call rates to amongst the lowest in the world. Competition has only intensified since 2016, when Reliance Jio Infocomm, owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, stormed into the market and offered free calls and dirt cheap data. This triggered consolidation in the industry – the most prominent being that of Vodafone and Idea.