TRAI pushing for Indian auctions to include more 3G frequencies

Indian regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has called for the government to delay its upcoming spectrum auctions due to a shortage of suitable airwaves.

The regulator has previously advocated including more spectrum frequencies in the auction, claiming that the country’s sector faces a shortage as certain blocks held by the military are unlikely to be released in time. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has rejected these recommendations.

The defence ministry has agreed to release 5MHz of spectrum, covering 17 of India’s 22 telecom circles. However, it holds a further 15MHz of 3G spectrum which it will only release in exchange for other frequencies, and since there is no currently agreed timeframe for this process, it is unlikely to happen soon.

The DoT expects the auction of 3G spectrum – scheduled for February 23rd – to bring in INR50 billion ($805 million), while the remaining 3 bands will pull in INR93.5 billion. India’s previous 3G auction in 2010 generated over INR670 billion.

Spectrum reserve prices have been an issue of some contention in this round of auctions, with a recent DoT panel suggesting that they should be raised by 17% for 800MHz spectrum and 23% for 900MHz spectrum. If the proposal is approved by the telecoms minister and the cabinet, it will bring the prices up to INR36.46 billion (800MHz) and INR36.93 billion (900MHz).


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