New Delhi, Nov. 20: The department of telecom (DoT), in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, has defended its decision to sell a limited amount of spectrum on the grounds that the demand for airwaves (spectrum) was low and putting the entire amount on the block would not have yielded a higher market value.
The DoT added that if the entire spectrum available in the 1800 megahertz (MHz) band had been put up for sale, it would have affected the refarming process.
Refarming involves the taking away of the highly efficient airwaves in the 900MHz band, largely held by incumbents such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, and substituting them with spectrum in the 1800MHz frequency when the permits of these firms come up for renewal in 2014.
“As it is, part of the spectrum put to auction has not been sold and further none of the participants in the auction were deprived for want of availability of spectrum, and therefore putting any further spectrum to auction will not fetch the real market value,” the DoT said in its affidavit.
Yesterday, the apex court had asked the Centre why it had not auctioned the entire spectrum vacated by the cancellation of 122 licences in February.
The court also made it clear that it would not allow the Centre to withhold even 0.1 per cent of spectrum from not being auctioned.
The auctions last week got a lukewarm response because of the high reserve price, and only 55 per cent of the spectrum put up for sale got bids. The government earned just Rs 9,407 crore from the sale of airwaves.