New Delhi, Feb. 24: Telecom companies have sought a reduction in the final price of spectrum that is not available in a continuous band in the March auction.
Spectrum is sold in pairs of 1.25MHz (for uplink and downlink), and if the allocation is not continuous, it will affect high-speed data services using 3G or 4G technology. Not all spectrum on offer in the March auction is available in a sequence.
Operators have written to the department of telecom (DoT) urging that a bidder winning non-contiguous spectrum should be either allowed to “withdraw his bid after being informed that he is getting non-contiguous spectrum” or “asked to pay a lesser amount for the non-contiguous spectrum”.
The government will conduct the sale of spectrum in the 1,800MHz, 900MHz and 800MHz bands, which can be used to offer voice and Internet services using 2G, 3G or 4G technologies.
The DoT had justified the high spectrum price on the ground that it would fetch higher returns for operators who would be allowed to deploy any technology on the radio waves. Earlier, rules restricted spectrum or radio wave use to either 2G, 3G or 4G technology.
“In case of the 1800MHz band, both Delhi and Mumbai have two blocks of contiguous 5MHz and one block of non-contiguous 5MHz spectrum. All bidders are bidding for the same spectrum. However, at the end of the auction, one of the three winning operators will get non-contiguous 5MHz but at the same price as that for contiguous. Would that not be unjust for the third operator?” firms have asked the DoT.
In its response, the DoT said, “The government will ensure providing four contiguous blocks to all bidders who have won four or more blocks in the same band.” Bidders can bid for any number of blocks of 1.25MHz in each telecom circle.
The DoT has clarified that the 800MHz band of spectrum can be used only to deploy CDMA technology.
Analysts said the move was likely to limit the sale of 800MHz spectrum to Sistema-Shyam, which is the only pure-play CDMA operator.