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India delays spectrum auctions, sticks with high reserve prices

India’s spectrum auctions have been postponed for a week while the country’s Department of Telecom addresses issues raised at a pre-auction meeting.

Originally scheduled for February 25th, the auctions will now take place on March 4th, with the deadline for bids set at February 16th. Both 2G and 3G spectrum will be available, with airwaves in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz bands all up for grabs.

DoT recommendations for the pricing of 3G spectrum have not yet received the approval of the cabinet, although it is unlikely that the decision will take much longer. Criticism over the proposed reserve prices has been dismissed, with the DoT opting to exceed TRAI’s base price recommendations by 36%.

In addition, the DoT has only made 2x5MHz of spectrum in the 2100MHz band available for auction – counter to recommendations from both TRAI and the GSMA.

Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer of the GSMA, said: “Mobile broadband is set to grow exponentially throughout India, driving digital inclusion and economic growth for India’s consumers and businesses. By the end of 2014, 3G coverage reached 61% of India’s population and it is set to escalate substantially to 90% by 2020. However…these forecasts will only become reality if mobile operators have the capacity to make the necessary network investment in India.”


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