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India spectrum prices are in the spotlight

For many years, the Indian mobile market has suffered from an acute shortage of spectrum. The nation’s largest-ever spectrum sale offered a chance to address this deficit.

Nevertheless, the sale fell well short of the Government’s goal of US$84 billion. Only 40% of the offered spectrum sold, and none of it was in the 700MHz and 900MHz bands, which support more efficient mobile network rollouts. Although the new frequencies have helped alleviate India’s spectrum crunch, operators will face various challenges as they support a new wave of demand for mobile data.

Indian policymakers have made significant progress toward improving supply-side dynamics in the mobile industry, notably by harmonizing frequencies in the 1,800MHz band earlier this year, which created a contiguous and more efficient spectrum. But the issue of reserve prices remains a thorn in the side of longterm growth prospects.

Comparison of 700MHz pricing in select national auctions

EY - Comparison of 700MHz pricing in select national auctions

European roaming debate rumbles on

Regulation of roaming rates has been a focus area for European Union (EU) regulators over the last decade. However, draft laws to introduce EU-wide free roaming for traveling users were withdrawn in September within a few days of being proposed.

Although the EU has achieved much during a decade of roaming price reform — cross-border calls and texts are 92% cheaper now than in 2007 — devising rules that both meet the needs of consumers and provide a predictable regime for operators is less than straightforward.

As things stand, the wholesale prices set by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the EU demonstrate considerable variation. This reflects different assumptions about the wholesale costs required to support roaming, which remains a contentious issue.

Simply put, achieving a wholesale rate that works for all member states will be difficult, yet these caps will play a vital role in ensuring that the removal of retail roaming charges is a success.