Vodafone-Idea and Bharti Airtel are both considering abstaining from the country’s forthcoming auction, unless TRAI revisits its pricing recommendations

Two of India’s biggest telcos, namely Vodafone-Idea and Bharti Airtel, have said that they may abstain from India’s forthcoming spectrum auction, unless India’s regulator continues lowering its prices, according to a report in the Economic Times of India.

Last month, the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that it hoped to raise a staggering $84 billion (Rs 9.83 trillion) at its forthcoming airwave auction.

“It doesn’t make sense for us to buy at these levels, when the ecosystem won’t be developing for the next two to three years,” a top Bharti Airtel official told the Economic Times.

Sources also claimed that Indian telcos could be asked to pay as much as Rs 55,000 crore ($7.2 billion) per 100 MHz of spectrum.

While Airtel and Vodafone-Idea have said that they would not be keen to take part in a 2019 auction at the current pricing levels, it is believed that Reliance Jio, the country’s only profitable telco, could be prepared to take part in the auction, as it looks to increase its network superiority over its competitors.

Earlier this month, Ericsson’s senior representative for South East Asia, Oceania and India, Nunzio Mirtillo said that Indian telcos would struggle to meet the excessive cost of 5G.

"The proposed reserve price for 5G airwaves in India is expensive, given the health of the telecom players in India. If the aim is to ensure that everyone gets access to 5G, telcos need spectrum at fair and reasonable prices," he said.  

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