Free Press Journal

DoT to start spectrum auction by June-July


Barcelona: Department of Telecom is likely to formulate its views on Trai recommendations on spectrum pricing by March and commence auction by June-July, a top official said today.

“We are working for an auction in June-July and are looking at the TRAI recommendations and hopefully we will formulate what should be the policy and rules for the auction and get the industry approvals, in keeping in mind for the timeframe of auction in June/July,” Telecom Secretary J S Deepak said at the Mobile World Congress here.

“I would be surprised if we are not able to analyse the Trai recommendations and formulate our views by end of March,” he added. Deepak, who has met top executives of technology firms and telecom operators at the event, said the objective was to understand their plans for India.

Deepak has met companies including Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Telenor and Telestra among others.

“One major objective was to look at in our interaction with various technology companies, telecom service providers’ key executives and top management to try to understand what are their plans for India, and this in two aspects, one is investments that they are planning and what is their likelihood of participation in auction,” Deepak said.

He said lot of discussions happened and everyone is excited about India as a potential market. Asked if telecom operators are excited about the upcoming spectrum auctions as many of them have been saying the reserve price shared by Trai is too high, the secretary said different people have different views.

“Some of them want a lot of spectrum to be auctioned and some of them feel that some spectrum have very high cost, some feel that reforms are more important and some feel that regulations should be lighter…all kinds of things,” he said. The regulator had recommended a record base price of Rs 11,485 crore per Mhz for 700 Mhz. If all available frequencies get sold at Trai-suggested price, then it can alone contribute over Rs 4 lakh crore.

Vodafone and Telenor have said regulator Trai’s proposed base price for sale of spectrum in seven bands, which could fetch up to Rs 5.36 lakh crore, is high. The spectrum sale, which is estimated to fetch more than double the total annual revenue of all telecom companies, that is Rs 2.54 lakh crore.

Asked about his priorities as Telecom Secretary, Deepak said this sector has grown because of the strength of private enterprise together with good regulations and policies by government — starting with a new telecom policy of 1999, which was very forward looking, spectrum auctions of 2010 which set the tone for future auctions — and number of other regulations like spectrum trading and sharing.

“The idea is to carry forward the reform agenda and make it worthwhile for telecom companies to invest more with new investments in infrastructure to provide better services geographically and more variety of services.” “To encourage them to obtain more spectrum, which they have been saying they are short off in the forthcoming auctions. And, to develop a plan for broadband/ optical fibre infrastructure which can be delivered in the long term, especially for the rural areas,” he said.