Battling both financial stress and the government’s decision to hold spectrum auctions, Vodafone Idea feels the 5G airwave sale should be based on India-specific use cases rather than taking examples from developed countries.
Vodafone Idea Chief Technology Officer Vishant Vora said auctions should be held later rather than sooner as the industry is not in good financial health. Spectrum is allotted and not auctioned in China and Japan. Those governments take a long-term strategic view that 5G will be the foundation for a digital society. Therefore, invest in 5G to make other industries more effective, said Vora. Vodafone Idea has time and again said the company was not keen on participating in the auctions as the reserve prices proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India are very high.
Meanwhile, on the spectrum integration front, Vora said the company would be able to do it before the targeted timeline.
“We are going to complete the spectrum integration in 18 months, from the earlier plan of 26 months. We are a year into it and we have done three-fourths of it already. We are well on track with that (integration),” he said.
The company has integrated 14 circles fully and is in the final stages of integration. Recently, Vodafone Idea brass — Vodafone Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nick Read, and Vodafone Idea Managing Director and CEO Ravinder Takkar — met with Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash at a time when the central government is busy preparing for the upcoming spectrum auctions.
Vodafone Idea has been seeking two-year moratorium on its annual spectrum payment, citing debt and stress on balance sheet. Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, in September, had called on Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for deferring statutory payments in a sector that was not generating enough cash to even service loans.