India plans 4G spectrum sale for March

India plans 4G spectrum sale for March

The next Indian spectrum auction is not far off. The telecommunications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has announced plans to auction 2251.25 MHz of spectrum in March.

According to Indian press reports, the country’s cabinet accepted the Department of Telecom’s (DOT) proposal on the next spectrum auctions at a meeting this week. However, the March sale will, apparently, only be of 4G spectrum. A total of 2251.25 MHz spectrum will be sold in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands. 

The total reserve price valuation of the spectrum is said to be Rs. 392,332.70 crore – an eye-watering $53.3 billion. That said, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has apparently lowered the prices of most bands from those set at the previous sale in October 2016. At that auction the 700 MHz band spectrum was unsold.

However, whether the lower prices will attract bids from the big names is an interesting question. Some may have no choice as their spectrum allocations in certain regions will expire during 2021, though Bharti Airtel and Vodafone idea are said to have backup spectrum.

The reward for successful bidders will be augmented network capacity for incumbents and spectrum to kickstart services for new entrants.

Successful bidders may pay the entire bid amount upfront or may exercise an option to pay a certain amount and the remainder in annual instalments after a moratorium of two years.

DoT will issue a Notice Inviting Applications before the end of this month.

The long-delayed auctions of 5G spectrum are apparently also planned for next year, though a precise date has not been set.

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