More 1.8GHz airwaves are expected to be made available for India’s spectrum auction scheduled for July after the band is harmonised across the country.
The first phase of the 1.8GHz spectrum harmonisation, which will be completed next month and will free up about 202MHz across 22 service areas, comes after the country’s cabinet approved allocating spectrum to an exclusive Defence Band and freeing additional spectrum in the band for commercial use in telecoms and broadcasting, the Economic Times reported.
The telecoms regulator is expected to sharply increase the amount of spectrum in the next auction, which will likely include spectrum in the highly efficient 700MHz band for the first time and six other bands.
The availability of the 700MHz band across the country’s 22 service areas would significant boost the amount the government could raise in the auction, which some estimate could reach a staggering INR5.37 trillion ($80.5 billion).
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in January set a base price for the 4G band at a huge INR115 billion ($1.7 billion) per megahertz.
But India’s top four operators – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications — have indicated they may avoid the 700MHz auction, given their stretched balance sheets and need to beef up their 4G networks with newcomer Reliance Jio soon to launch 4G nationwide.
Last year’s auction of about 470MHz of spectrum in four bands generated a record INR1.1 trillion for the government.