With less than three months to go for 2G and 3G airwaves’ auction, the department of telecommunications (DoT) has asked telecom regulator Trai to expedite finalising the base price for 2100 MHz band of 3G spectrum.
The DoT plans to auction 3G airwaves (2100 MHz) along with 900 and 1800 MHz band of 2G spectrum together in the upcoming auction. The auctions will be conducted after taking into account the base prices recommended by the regulator.
The government is estimated to garner at least R9,355 crore from the sale of airwaves.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday invited comments and inputs on the consultation paper on ‘Valuation and Reserve Price of Spectrum: 2100 MHz’ by December 15 and counter-comments on December 19.
Trai hopes to finalise base price by December 22 after having an open house on the same day. The Notice Inviting Application (NIA) as per suggested time line will be issued on December 26 followed by the auction that is proposed to begin from February 23 next year.
“The 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,” Trai said.
The government is worried that it may not be able to achieve its revenue target unless additional spectrum in 2100 MHz band is sold. As per estimates, auction of spectrum in 2100 MHz band in February can fetch bids worth R5,000 crore.
Trai said DoT is in talks with the defence ministry for the vacation of the 3G band and has spelled out three possible scenarios. First, in case if defence refuses to release 3G airwaves, then auction cannot be conducted in this band. Secondly, if the defence releases 5 MHz in 17 circles, in that case one block of 5 MHz spectrum will be available for auction in 17 circles.
Also the the defence ministry could agree to swap 2100 MHz spectrum (3G) with 1900 MHz (2G). In that case, in addition to 5 MHz spectrum in 17 circles, it may release 15 MHz on pan-India basis by swapping 2100 MHz spectrum with 1900 MHz, Trai said.
Telecom companies as well as the telecom regulator have been of the view that the auction should take place only when adequate spectrum is made available, and the bidding should be held simultaneously for both 2G and 3G services.
In 2010, the defence ministry had released 20 MHz out of 25 MHz in 2100 MHz band and allocated to DoT under the agreement with defence on a pan-India basis and one more block of 5 MHz in 5 circles, which was auctioned in 2010.
Under the agreement with DoT, the remaining spectrum is to be vacated only after the alternate communication network is completed.