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Bharti Airtel will not bid for 5G spectrum at Trai recommended price: Vittal

New Delhi: Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Wednesday said it will not buy 5G spectrum in the upcoming auction if its base price is fixed at Rs 492 crore per megahertz as recommended by the telecom regulator Trai.

The company has stressed balance sheet reeling under debt of Rs 1.14 lakh crore with liability to clear statutory dues of around 35,500 crore, following a Supreme Court order in October 2019 that upheld the government's stand on calculating levies over telecom licences.

Bharti Airtel chief financial officer Badal Bagri during the earnings calls, however, said that the industry is now repairing itself with hike in mobile call and internet rates, which needs to rise further and it expects a favourable outcome in the adjusted gross revenue from the judiciary and regulator for long-term growth and viability of the sector. "On the 3.5 Ghz band Trai has recommended price to Rs 50,000 crore for 100 mhz of spectrum. 5G requires a large block of spectrum. 100 Mhz spectrum for 50,000 crore, we can't afford. We believe it is too high. We will not pick it up at those prices," Bharti Airtel MD and CEO for India and South Asia Gopal Vittal said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended that proposed base price of proposed 5G spectrum in 3,300-3,600 Mhz band at about Rs 492 crore per Mhz unpaired spectrum on pan India basis. Telecom operators interested in buying radiowaves for 5G will have to shell out a minimum of Rs 9,840 crore on pan-India basis to buy spectrum in 3,300-3,600 Mhz band as Trai has suggested that it "should be put to auction in the block size of 20 MHz".

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