The government will decide only after November auction on how much quantity of spectrum telecom operators can retain when they surrender the airwaves at the time of licence renewal in 2014.
“We will take a call once 1,800 Mhz spectrum auction is over,” Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar told reporters in response queries on spectrum refarming.
The auction for 1,800 Mhz spectrum is due in November. The government has in-principle approved the concept of spectrum refarming under which old operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have to surrender spectrum allocated in 900 Mhz band (being used for 2G services which gives wider coverage) on expiry of their licences.
The companies, which surrender their spectrum, will have the option to repurchase the airwaves through auction proposed in first half of 2013.
According to sources in DoT, there is proposal to allow operators to retain either 2.5 Mhz or 5 Mhz of airwaves frequencies in 900 Mhz band.
The base price for 900 Mhz band spectrum is proposed to be charged at double the price of 1800 Mhz spectrum band. The government had allocated spectrum in 900 Mhz band to companies starting 2001 for Rs 1,658 crore for pan-India services.
Telecom companies have been against refarming and said it may result in call rates going up by as much as 64 paise a minute.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has proposed allowing players, including existing operators, to bid for these spectrum at new prices.