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Less spectrum for sale in 1800MHz band

Mumbai, Feb. 2: The department of telecommunications (DoT) has altered the amount of spectrum it intends to auction in the 1800 megahertz (MHz) band in 10 of the 22 circles, including Calcutta and Bengal, just two days before the selloff begins.

It isn’t clear why the last minute changes were made. The auctions will start tomorrow.

In Calcutta, the amount of spectrum now on offer has been reduced to 25MHz from 26.80MHz.

The block size in the 1800MHz band is a tiny sliver at just 200KHz against the 1MHz block size in the more lucrative 900MHz band.

As a result of the change, the number of blocks on offer in Calcutta has gone down from 134 to 125.

In Mumbai, the spectrum on offer has been trimmed to 23.40MHz in 117 blocks from 25.20MHz, broken into 126 blocks.

In Bengal, the spectrum on offer has been reduced to 11.20MHz split in 56 blocks from 13MHz carved into 65 blocks.

The other circles where the spectrum has been cut by 1.8MHz, or nine blocks, each include Delhi (to 21MHz in 105 blocks), Bihar (2.40MHz; 12 blocks), Jammu and Kashmir (4.40MHz; 22 blocks), Northeast (25MHz; 125 blocks), Odisha (26.20MHz; 131 blocks), Rajasthan (19Mhz; 95 blocks), and Uttar Pradesh east (8MHz; 40 blocks).

Action time

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Jio Infocomm and five other telecom firms will battle it out at the spectrum auction tomorrow, from which the government expects to garner at least Rs 11,300 crore.

The DoT has put on the block around 385MHz of radiowaves in the 1800MHz band, and 46MHz in the 900MHz band.

The final list of bid- ders also includes Idea Cellular, Telewings (Uninor), Reliance Communications (RCom), Tata Teleservices and Aircel.

Three companies, meanwhile, have been found to be ineligible for bidding in certain service areas. Vodafone India will not be able to bid in seven circles, RCom in eight and Tata Teleservices in Delhi.

The government has to conduct this third round of spectrum auction following a Supreme Court order in a 2G case directing that all the radiowaves freed from the cancellation of 122 licences in February 2012 to be auctioned.

Besides, the 900MHz has to be auctioned as some of the radiowaves in this band are held under the old telecom licences, which will start expiring from November 2014. In November 2012, bids worth Rs 9,407 crore were received for spectrum worth Rs 28,000 crore that was offered.

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