It looks like India’s spectrum auction in February will end up being expanded to include 3G airwaves after the defence ministry agreed to give up 5MHz of 2.1GHz spectrum.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been pushing the government to hold off on the auction until additional frequencies are made available as the industry faces a severe storage of spectrum. A month ago the Department of Telecom (DoT) rejected TRAI’s recommendation that the spectrum auction be expanded because the additional spectrum bands suggested were unlikely to be available in time.
While the defence ministry will now release 5MHz covering 17 regions, no agreement has been reached on an additional 15MHz of 3G spectrum it holds, the Economic Times said. Sources said the issue won’t be resolved soon as it will require swapping the 3G frequencies for other bands.
The DoT previously estimated that the 23 February auction would generate INR50 billion ($805 million) from the 3G band and INR93.5 billion from the three other spectrum bands, the Times said.
A DoT panel last week suggested raising the reserve price for the 800MHz spectrum by 17 per cent and the 900MHz spectrum by 23 per cent. The base price for the 1.8GHz band was increased only slightly. The suggested reserve prices are INR36.46 billion (800MHz), INR36.93 billion (900MHz) and INR21.91 billion (1.8GHz). The proposal has to be approved by the telecom minister before going to the cabinet.
TRAI will now need to work out the price of the 3G slot.
The country’s last 3G auction in 2010 raised more than INR670 billion.