TRAI floats consultation for next round of spectrum, 60 percent of unsold radiowaves up for grabs

In the proposed spectrum auction, DoT plans to sell about 60 percent of total spectrum that remained unsold in the last auction.

Telecom regulator TRAI today set into motion consultation for the next round of spectrum auction across nine bands that include 60 percent of unsold radiowaves of the last bidding and 275 megahertz of two new bands meant for 5G services. While the Department of Telecom (DoT) has proposed to hold auction in 2017, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has sought opinion on when the next round of auction should be held and whether it should done in a "phased manner".

Image: TRAI.

Image: PTI.

"The government is planning to auction the right to use of spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3400 MHz and 3400-3600 MHz bands in the next auction to be held in 2017," TRAI said in the consultation paper. "DoT has requested the Authority to provide its recommendations on applicable reserve price, quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and associated conditions for auction of spectrum in these bands for all service areas."

In the proposed spectrum auction, DoT plans to sell about 60 percent of total spectrum that remained unsold in the last auction. In addition, DoT has included two more bands -- 3300-3400 MHz and 3400-3600 MHz -- it plans to allocate for mobile services through the auction. "DoT has proposed to include 100 MHz in all the 22 LSAs (licenced telecom circles) in the 3300-3400 MHz band for the forthcoming auction for access services," the paper said.

TRAI said that out of the 200 MHz band available in 3400 -3600 Mhz band, 25 MHz spectrum (3400-3425 MHz) is identified for ISROs use in Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). "The remaining 175 MHz (3425-3600 MHz) spectrum is available for access services and the same can be put in the forthcoming auction," the regulator said. During the last auction, the government had put airwaves worth Rs 5.66 lakh crore for sale. In the five-day auction, seven telecom companies made commitments of Rs 65,789 crore for buying 964.80 MHz of spectrum in various frequency bands.

Even at the end of the auction, nearly 60 percent of the spectrum remained unsold (in all, 2,354.55 MHz was placed on the block) and spectrum worth Rs 4 lakh crore in 700 Mhz band found no takers. The telecom industry has been reeling off its poor financial health, falling revenue and profitability demanding that the auctions should be held late next year or early 2019. Last date for comments on this paper is September 25 and that of counter-comments is October 3, 2017.

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