India’s Telecom Commission has rejected telecom regulator TRAI’s recommendation that next year’s spectrum auction be expanded to include frequencies in four bands because the additional spectrum is unlikely to be released in time.
In addition to the 2.1GHz spectrum held by the military not likely to be available in time, the commission argued that BSNL’s 900MHz spectrum permit doesn’t expire until 2015-16, the Economic Times said. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suggested the state-owned firm release 1.2MHz of the efficient 900MHz band before the next auction.
The commission, which is under the Department of Telecom (DoT), also requested that TRAI review its suggested starting prices for the spectrum.
TRAI suggested on 15 October a base price of INR30.04 billion ($595 million) for the 900MHz band and INR21.38 billion as the starting price for the 1.8GHz allotment. Morgan Stanley has estimated that the Indian government is likely to generate as much as INR327 billion from Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular in the auction of the 900MHz and 1.8GHz frequencies.
TRAI has been pushing the government to hold off on the auction until additional spectrum – specifically in the 800MHz and 2.1GHz airwaves – is available.
The commission has given TRAI 15 days to suggest a more workable multi-band auction proposal as well as new pricing. The government aims to hold the auction this fiscal year and sell the amount available at that point, the Times said.
TRAI last month told the DoT it needs to first know how much 3G spectrum will go on auction for it to set a reserve price in the 2.1GHz band. TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar said it can’t move ahead to determine the prices since the Ministry of Defence hasn’t yet agreed to swap airwaves with DoT to free up 15MHz of 2.1GHz spectrum.