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Spectrum auction in February

New Delhi, Aug. 1: The government plans to hold the auction of spectrum in the 800, 900 and 1800 megahertz (MHz) bands in February.

The process of selecting an auctioneer will start in the middle of this month.

The government expects to garner Rs 9,355 crore through the sale of radio waves, but actual earnings are likely to be more than Rs 30,000 crore, officials said.

The telecom companies are required to pay up to a third of the winning price initially and the remainder in instalments over a number of years.

Analysts said the government’s expectations were conservative, given the successful auction that generated a total bid value of Rs 61,162.22 crore in February through the sale of 46MHz spectrum in the 900MHz band and about 307MHz in the 1800MHz band.

In the upcoming auction, the department of telecom is likely to offer 184MHz in the 900MHz band across 18 circles and 104MHz across 17 circles in the 1800MHz band.

India’s top telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea and Reliance Communications, are required to bid in the auction to renew their permits in some service areas.

In December 2015, four licences of Bharti Airtel, seven each of Idea Cellular and Reliance Telecom and six of Vodafone must be renewed.

The DoT has put up 385MHz of airwaves in the 1,800MHz band and 46MHz in the 900MHz band for auction in February.

Besides, all available spectrum in the 800MHz band, primarily used by CDMA operators, across all 22 circles may be up for sale.

This has been a long-standing demand of Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), which operates under the MTS brand.

The Russian government, which has a stake in SSTL, has been pressing India to put up 800MHz spectrum for auction.

SSTL was the lone bidder for the CDMA spectrum auction held in March last year and won back spectrum to operate in eight circles for Rs 3,639 crore. It had lost its licences following a Supreme Court order in February 2012.

The government will issue a notice inviting applications on December 1 for the upcoming auction, which is slated to start from February 3.

The last date for submission of applications is likely to be January 12, and the last date for withdrawals, January 27.

Meanwhile, concerned over the under-utilisation of broadband capacity, the government today sought suggestions from the industry to enhance its use, which is at around 50 per cent of capacity.

 
 
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