Everyone agrees that billions of consumers in the developing world, especially those living in remote locations, need Internet access, as most now have mobile service.

Virtually everyone also agrees that the cost of service has to be very affordable to encourage people to buy Internet access service. That begins with policies that release spectrum for commercial use.

“Auction design is really important,” says Robert Pepper, Cisco VP. “It is not so important to raise revenue as it is to get spectrum into the hands of people who want it,” and wjp will use it to provide services.

Artificial spectrum scarcity sometimes is attributed to mobile service providers and others who hoard spectrum. In other cases, “governments have not released spectrum that is potentially available, creating artificial scarcity,” said Pepper.

For that reason, every cost element, in any part of the ecosystem, makes it harder to provide affordable service to everyone.

Networks have to be efficient. Costs for acquiring spectrum have to be reasonable. Taxes, fees and other charges likewise make a difference.

So it is that the GSMA says it is “concerned by the action of the Telecom Commission (India) to increase spectrum auction reserve prices for India’s 2100 MHz spectrum auction” almost 36 percent higher than recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Moreover, the proposal by the Government to only put 2×5 MHz of spectrum in the 2100 MHz band up for auction, when the GSMA and TRAI recommended an auction at least 2×20 MHz of spectrum, will limit potential bandwidth.

“While high auction prices may generate short-term revenues for the government, in the longer term they will negatively impact the development of India’s mobile networks and delay investment in infrastructure, resulting in higher retail prices and an inferior mobile experience for consumers,” said Tom Phillips, GSMA chief regulatory officer.

Every cost in the ecosystem winds up affecting the retail cost of Internet access for consumers who cannot afford to pay very much for such access. That includes spectrum costs.

Sustainability is a core issue to be discussed at Spectrum Futures in Singapore in September 2015.