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New COAI chairman urges govt to provide 5G spectrum at reasonable prices

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Mobile industry body COAI has appealed to the government to ensure that 5G spectrum is made available to all players at “reasonable prices” and pitched for lower levies and taxes to make the sector strong and sustainable. “5G spectrum should be made available to all players at reasonable prices such that more investments are directed towards enhancing network capacity and capabilities,” Balesh Sharma, new chairman of COAI said at a panel discussion. Sharma is also the chief executive officer (CEO) of India’s largest telecom operator Vodafone Idea.

His comments come on a day when newly appointed Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that India will hold a mega spectrum auction for 5G and other radiowaves in the next six months and intends to start 5G trials in the next 100 days.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has already recommended auction of about 8,644 MHz of telecom frequencies, including those for 5G services, at an estimated total base price of Rs 4.9 lakh crore, but the financially stressed industry has contended that prices are unaffordable.

“At the current level, the spectrum prices are exorbitant for sure,” Sharma said. The communications ministry also plans to hold detailed discussion with the financially stressed telecom industry on challenges faced by them and will work on addressing outstanding issues. “The immediate need to make the telecom sector strong and sustainable. and rationalising taxes and levies,” said Sharma.

Balesh Sharma was named chairman of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) at industry associations’ Annual General Body meeting.

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