Tuesday, 2 December 2014

DoT plans to auction 3G spectrum in February: Trai

It is official that the (DoT) plans to conduct auction of 2,100MHz spectrum band in February, along with 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz bands. To facilitate the process, the has asked Telecom regulatory Authority of India (Trai), on November 27, to give its recommendations on what would be the reserve price of 2,100MHz band of airwaves.
Trai, on Tuesday, has floated a consultation paper on valuation and price of 2100MHz spectrum band which will be auctioned simultaneously with 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz bands. After comments and submission from the stakeholders, the regulator will give its recommendations on the base price.
"DoT requested Trai to expedite the process for its recommendations on the reserve price of 2100 Mhz band and related issues so that the auction of spectrum in this band could be conducted along with the auction of spectrum in the 800/900/1800 MHz bands scheduled in February 2015," according to a Trai statement.
There were doubts regarding the time of the auction of 2,100MHz band as the DoT had earlier said that the auction of the band cannot be conducted as there was no indication from the Defence on vacation of spectrum. However, the issue seemed to have been resolved after Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and newly appointed defence minister Manohar Parrikar met last month. Both the ministries are believed to have sorted the issue.
The industry has long been asking for additional spectrum for commercial use and has been asking the Government to auction 2,100MHz band of radiowaves. The main point of contention was a plan that the defence ministry would give 15 MHz of spectrum in the 2,100 MHz band in return for the same amount in the 1,900 band, which was with the DoT and had been reserved for providing spectrum to CDMA operators for expansion. Earlier, the two ministries had agreed the spectrum in the 1,700-2,000-MHz band would be equally divided between the two, each getting 150 MHz.
With the move, telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafane, Idea and Reliance Communications, which had feared a shortage of spectrum would lead to cut-throat competition and raise auction prices, can breathe easy.
Trai, in a statement, said stakeholders can send their comments regarding 2100 Mhz band auction by December 15 and counter-comments by December 19. Last week, Trai has reiterated its recommendations for 900 and 1800MHz bands while it has increased the base price by 15 per cent for 800MHz band.
The DoT has estimated that the next round of spectrum auction, scheduled in February, will add at least Rs 9,355 crore from sale of spectrum. As per estimates, auction of spectrum in 2100 Mhz band in February can fetch bids worth at least Rs 5,000 crore.