DoT considering withholding some 700MHz airwaves over sale concerns

21 Mar 2016

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is considering withholding some spectrum in the 700MHz range in the upcoming auction, amidst concerns that operators will not bid aggressively for the airwaves due to the high reserve prices. The Economic Times cites a DoT official as saying that a regulatory committee does not believe that all of the available 700MHz airwaves should be put up for auction, as they may not get sold. The sale, which is scheduled to take place in July this year, is currently on track to be the country’s largest ever spectrum sale, with the potential to fetch INR5.36 trillion (USD80.5 billion). The tender includes spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2500MHz bands. The high price has sparked concerns, however, that operators will be reluctant to bid aggressively for airwaves.

Regarding the sought-after 700MHz band, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended a record reserve price of INR114.85 billion per MHz (paired) for pan-India spectrum, with per MHz prices per circle ranging from INR440 million (North East) to INR15.95 billion (Delhi). In addition to its comments on the 700MHz band, meanwhile, the DoT committee has also reportedly found a number of anomalies regarding the TRAI’s pricing recommendations and will be writing to the regulator for clarification on a ‘host of issues’.