5G spectrum: TCS vs telcos? Jio, Airtel flag concerns over 5G for private networks


India’s top telcos have said there is no justification whatsoever for direct allocation of 5G spectrum via administrative route to corporate enterprises for private captive networks, saying such a move would give a backdoor entry to private companies, truncate the revenues of licensed telccs, rob the government of valuable revenues and create a non-level playing field.

“There is no need to alienate spectrum directly to companies for captive private networks….the licensed access service providers are fully capable of providing all customised solutions, including M2M / Industrial 4.0 services in the most competitive and economic manner, and are providing such network configurations to private and public sector entities,” said the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), in a media statement Wednesday.

The COAI represents India’s top telcos, Reliance Jio,

and Vodafone Idea (Vi).

The telcos’ stand directly in conflict with the position of the biggest tech companies like Tata Consultancy Services () and who want the government to directly allocate 5G spectrum to private enterprises, as recommended by the sector regulator. In fact, the no-holds barred face-off between telcos and tech companies over direct spectrum allocations for private 5G networks is believed to have held in abeyance the final Cabinet approval on 5G spectrum pricing for the much awaited auction.


The COAI added that “any move such as setting aside/ allocation of 5G spectrum (via delicensed/ administrative basis) for catering to the connectivity needs of Industry 4.0 / M2M communication services by way of industry-led private captive networks, would create a non-level playing field, leading to arbitrariness in basic policies, discouraging investment in networks and leading to disorderly growth of the sector by back-door entry with undue advantage to private commercial entities at the cost of the government exchequer”.

Earlier, India’s top telcos had slammed Trai’s recommendation that 5G spectrum for private enterprise networks be assigned administratively on demand through a publicised online portal-based process, and called on the regulator to scrap the move. They had warned that such a proposal, if accepted by the government, could potentially rob telcos of their future 5G enterprise business revenues – estimated at around 40% of overall 5G business revenues – and destroy the 5G business case in India.

Subsequently, in its response this week to DoT’s back-reference, Trai had suggested that private enterprises have the option to lease spectrum from the telcos.


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