India’s three major mobile operators called on the regulator to cut the reserve price of 3.5GHz spectrum for a planned 5G auction, The Economic Times (ET) reported.

In submissions to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the operators insisted a cut in spectrum prices was required to ensure they could finance 5G rollouts.

Reliance Jio reportedly pushed for a 95 per cent reduction in the base price for the mid-band spectrum, while Bharti Airtel called for it to be kept at no more than 10 per cent above the rate recommended in 2018.

Jio also proposed the price of mmWave spectrum be kept at 0.01 per cent of the mid-band price, an option Vodafone Idea supports.

Airtel indicated its investment in a nationwide 5G network could be as high as INR500 billion ($6.8 billion) excluding spectrum costs, ETwrote. The operator stated it would require a 20 per cent increase in revenue to break even, but noted operators in other nations typically struggled to add 10 per cent.

The operator also suggested giving away 600MHz spectrum with stringent deployment obligations, to boost rural broadband coverage.

All three operators are trialling 5G networks, with most urging the government to release the necessary spectrum, particularly in mmWave bands.

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