Vodafone Ideas chief regulatory officer recently told members of the Indian press that the country could find itself at the mercy of a telecoms duopoly if operators are not given equal access to spectrum

India’s newly merged telco, Vodafone Idea, has warned that a government initiative to impose a 50 per cent market cap on 5G spectrum ownership could stifle competition in the sub-continent.

The Indian government has proposed limiting the amount of 5G spectrum that an operator can own to 50 per cent. However, Vodafone Idea believes that this cap is too high and could eventually lead to a duopoly in India’s telecoms market where only the richest two operators can prosper. Vodafone Idea believes that the per operator cap should be set lower than 50 per cent to encourage market competition.

“While the pricing for the future spectrum is very important, access to spectrum is equally important,” P Balaji, chief regulatory officer at Vodafone Idea, told reporters from the Economic Times of India in a recent interview.

“If 5G is the game of the future from 2020 onwards, then it is very important that all telcos should get access to 5G, and not just opportunity to buy 5G airwaves.”

India is expected to launch commercial 5G network services in the first half of 2020. The country is experiencing something of a digital revolution since disruptive operator Reliance Jio began the rollout of ultra low cost 4G data services two years ago. The country is expected to be among the first of the south Asian nations to rollout 5G mobile services at scale.


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