Cabinet green-lights Commission price for 3G spectrum

29 Jan 2015

India’s Cabinet has approved a reserve price of INR37.05 billion (USD603.21 million) per MHz for 3G spectrum in the 2100MHz band in the upcoming frequency auction, now set to take place on 4 March. The price was set by the Telecom Commission, which rejected recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to set the cost around 35% lower and to include more than the 5MHz per circle in 17 circles currently included in the auction. The government has negotiated an in-principle agreement with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the latter to swap a further 15MHz of 2100MHz spectrum per circle for airwaves in the 1900MHz range, but has refused to include the additional frequencies in the upcoming auction. The Business Standard quotes telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Prassad as saying: ‘We have taken into account the market potential of this band…Spectrum trading and sharing norms are being finalised and will be notified soon. There is a campaign going around that there is spectrum deficit. But there is no deficit; whatever is available is being released.’ The Commission’s decision has faced fierce criticism from the industry, including the TRAI, which said that it: ‘will not maximise revenue proceeds. More seriously, it cannot promote rollout because resources for investment in networks will just not be available… rather than stimulate competition the auction may end up restricting it.’