DoT Plans to Auction 3G Spectrum in February, Says Trai

DoT Plans to Auction 3G Spectrum in February, Says Trai
As the government plans to conduct 3G spectrum auction along with 2G radiowaves sale in February, it has asked telecom regulator Trai to expedite the base price recommendations for it.

"DoT requested Trai to expedite the process for its recommendations on the reserve price of 2100MHz band and related issues so that the auction of spectrum in this band could be conducted along with the auction of spectrum in the 800/900/1800MHz bands scheduled in February 2015," Trai said.

In the consultation paper released on Tuesday for valuation and reserve price of spectrum in 2100MHz band, used for 3G services, the regulator has said that the Department of Telecom is in talks with the Defence Ministry for the vacation of the band and there are three possible scenarios under deliberation.

In case one, if no spectrum is released by the Defence, then auction can't be conducted in this band. The second scenario is that it releases 5MHz in 17 circles, in that case one block of 5MHz spectrum will be available for auction in 17 circles.

The third scenario could be the Defence swapping 2100MHz spectrum with 1900MHz. In that case, in addition to 5MHz spectrum in 17 circles, it may release 15MHz on pan-India basis by swapping 2100MHz spectrum with 1900MHz.

Telecom companies as well as the 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 the services - 2G and 3G.

Defence had released 20MHz out of 25MHz in 2100MHz band allocated to DoT under the agreement with Defence on a pan-India basis and one more block of 5MHz in 5 circles, which was auctioned in 2010.

(Also see: Defence Requirement for CDMA Spectrum May Leave Only 10MHz for Auction)

Under the agreement with DoT, the remaining spectrum is to be vacated only after the alternate communication network is completed.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said stakeholders can send their comments regarding 2100MHz band auction by December 15 and counter-comments by December 19.

Trai has earlier reiterated its recommendations for 900 and 1800MHz bands while it has increased the base price by 15 per cent for 800MHz band.

The DoT had sent back Trai's recommendations on 800, 900 and 1800MHz bands for reconsidering some points.

The next round of spectrum auction is proposed to be held in February and the government is estimated to garner at least Rs. 9,355 crores from sale of radiowaves.

As per estimates, auction of spectrum in 2100MHz band in February can fetch bids worth at least Rs. 5,000 crores.

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Further reading: DoT, Spectrum, Spectrum Auction, Telecom, Trai, 2G, 3G
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